Best Handling Practices

August 4, 2017

Brazil Placeholder

Best Handling Practices

About the Implementing organization

Name: Instituto Piaba and Project Piaba

Country: Brazil

Year of establishment: 2012

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status, Indigenous group or organization


Best Handling Practices is designed to implement culturally appropriate training in the fishing grounds with the collecting fishers. The goal of the training is to further improve fish handling practices and conditioning, resulting in reduce mortality rates and improved fish health.

From prior efforts and training, we are seeing improved quality of the fish in the home aquarium trade market and a slight recovery in the fishery, but there is more work to do. This fishery protects the aquatic environment and fosters a culture of environmental protectionism in an area the size of the UK.

Nature Element

Forests / Wetlands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Sustainable use / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Water security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

The home aquarium fishery is the principal subsistence activity for the riverine communities in the municipality of Barcelos [Amazonas state, Brazil] (population 40,000; area 122,490 km2). The trade in home aquarium fish has contributed approximately 60% of the income revenues in the municipality. Fluctuations in fish production [and market], mortality rates and price are the main constraints on the fishers’ subsistence. In years when income from home aquarium fishing is reduced, some fishers intensify their foraging activities, while others migrate to urban areas hoping to find “modern” employment. Fortunately, the annually inundated, floodplain habitats of home aquarium fishes have remained largely intact. Many forest fishes have a short life cycle (less than 2 years), and fish populations can be quickly replenished. It may, therefore, be possible through proper management to protect the habitat from degradation, while maintaining harvests at the same time.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Providing environmental education and socio-cultural history to local children, fishers, distributors and the public, and will promote career development in aquarium science and conservation.

Creating community based fishery management strategies which would include managed harvest levels, stock enhancement of fishes and turtles and the development of aquaculture of native species.

Assisting in the revision of policies by regulatory agencies in order to protect vulnerable species and enhance the economic viability of the region.

Encouraging local entrepreneurship, eco-tourism, the production of local crafts and the commercialization of other sustainable natural resources.


At one point, over 1,000 people were employed in the fishery and today it is down to an estimated 300 people. Being able to help this one fishery recover and continue to benefit the economy and ecosystem in the Rio Negro River area is just the beginning. There are other fishing areas in Brazil and around in the world in the tropics which can benefit.

Support by zoos and aquariums around the world to exhibit and educate 200 million visitors annually on the beneficial home aquarium fishery which provides socio-economic benefits and environmental benefits which meets all 17 of the UN Sustainability Goals.


Success studying and fostering this Rio Negro Fishery is the beginning of a journey to study and foster other beneficial aquarium fisheries like it which also meet the 17 UN Sustainability Goals.

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