Big Fish Farming to Conserve Amazon Rainforests
In a big country like Brazil, it makes sense for fish farmers to choose a big fish. The Tambaqui is that fish, and “averages about 3 feet in length (1 meter) and adult specimens can weigh upwards of 65 lbs (30 kgs).” How do they get so big? A diet of fruit and seeds from the Amazon jungle. Tambaqui wait for the rainy season to flood Amazon riverbanks, then they “literally swim into the forest and gorge themselves on fruits and seeds that fall into the water.”
According to The Fish Site, the Norwegian firm Nofima is working with the Brazilian fisheries and aquaculture research institute Embrapa to develop tambauqi fish farming in Brazil. The idea is that fish farming can be alternative source of food, employment, and income and help protect the Amazon rainforest:
The current efforts to go in for fish farming instead of cattle farming is reducing deforestation. There is also increased access to fish. The collaboration agreement states that in the first phase we will contribute to developing aquaculture of a local species in the Amazon, tambaqui, a species that has been extremely important in the region, but stocks are now severely depleted. What we achieve with tambaqui will act as a model for developing other species, (Source)
Norwegian firms like Nofima have broad and deep experience with fish farming around the world. Brazil has really big fish and lots of water in and around the Amazon. Norway and Chile have become major forces in aquaculture, but the potential for Brazil as on another scale.
…Chile developed into a significant aquaculture nation, in part with Norwegian cooperation. But both Chile and the aquaculture giant Norway become small in relation to the potential Brazil has as an aquaculture nation. Even though the technology to date is mainly simple dam-based aquaculture, the fish farming of many extremely coveted fish species has multiplied. Source
Brazil it big. Really big. At right is an image with Brazil superimposed over the United States. And compared to the Amazon, the Mississippi’s waterflow is on average less than ten percent. For raising fresh water fish, the Amazon is a source for vast flowing fresh water.
Brazil has become a major agricultural and livestock exporter, and in the future may become a major exporter of farmed fish. Raising fish in the Amazon basin seems likely to have less impact than clearing rainforest for agriculture and cattle ranching.