People and communities in some of the poorest parts of the world make a living from catching tropical fish - like cardinal tetra taken from the Amazon in Brazil. One of the biggest threats to these livelihoods is the increasingly vocal campaigns against wild caught fish and exotic pets which suggest that trading and keeping these animals is by its very nature 'bad'.
But the people who catch live ornamental fish are often the forgotten part of this story. They do not have a voice in the developed world in a debate that threatens their livelihoods and the well-being of their families.
What's rarely acknowledged in this debate is that, if best practice is followed (as it is across much of the industry) then fish mortalities are low, welfare standards are high, and the benefits can be huge. These benefits include:
- providing sustainable livelihoods to people
- revenue for the country where fish are caught
- improvements to infrastructure because a business operates in remote areas
- even carbon fixation - did you know that 67 billion tonnes of carbon are locked in the Amazonas where tropical freshwater fish are collected?
Maday is a fisher from Bali's Les village. An experienced marine fish collector, he's been fishing for the trade since 1997. He works with NGO LINI (an Ornamental Fish International member) in its work to build an artificial reef in the seas bordering his village.
"Ornamental fish are my main source of income so it’s important to have good fishing areas for the future. As a result of this work we’ve created a sustainable source of fish that enables me to send my children to school, have my own house and provide for my family’s daily needs.”
To hear more from Maday watch this video and to find out more about LINI's work in Bali go to www.lini.or.id
Billions of tonnes of carbon are fixed in the areas of the Amazonas in Brazil where tropical freshwater cardinal tetras are collected using handheld nets. These tiny freshwater fish used to contribute to 65% of the Barcelos economy and, in its heyday, the trade employed at least 1,000 families directly - not counting supporting industries. But the trade is declining which could have dire consequences for the community and Amazon rainforest.
A huge fiesta celebrating the importance of the trade in beautiful cardinal tetra and discus fish is put on every year. But as demand declines Project Piaba - an organisation created to research and help the trade survive - worries for its future.
Find out more about Project Piaba's work at www.projectpiaba.org and watch the fantastic festival of fishes in the video below.