Project News - Latin America and the Caribbean

Project News - Latin America
and the Caribbean

Manuel Martinez
Inland Water Resources and
Aquaculture Service (FIRI)
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome

A project to improve the livelihoods of poor fishers on the Brazilian coast

To improve the situation of poor coastal fishing communities of Brazil, in June 2000 an FAO Technical Cooperation Project was started with the objective of assisting the establishment of a sustainable seaweed farming sector that could benefit poor coastal communities in the north-east states. In addition to the Department of Fisheries and Agriculture, several other institutions are also involved in the project implementation through the promotion of marginalized groups.

The strategy proposed by this project is based on the testing of different technical options, which are being compared to select the most promising packages. The technical and economic feasibility of the farming techniques must be proven prior to promoting a large-scale expansion, and this will be one of the main goals of the project. The integrated approach that is required also involves intensive training programmes, which are implemented in the coastal communities involved in the project to fully achieve the social and economic benefits offered by this activity. Domestic and international markets for seaweed and seaweed-derived products, in particular colloids, must be studied to avoid the present situation of complete national dependence on imports of these products from abroad and eventually, to create a possibility for export products. Finally, an evaluation of the potential for expansion of this approach to other sites in the three states selected and to other states should be carried out to create a proper framework for follow-up.

This project follows the path of mussel culture as practised by a small-scale producers development project that was started in the State of Santa Catarina in 1990 and which reached a total production of more than 9 000 MT in 1999. FAO was responsible for assisting this development through this project, which launched this sector in the southern states. The success of the project derived from the testing at a pilot scale of a new technical package in various coastal communities. It showed that although expertise in mollusc farming existed previously in Brazil, the catalytic role of FAO in creating a proper package, and its testing and dissemination was crucial to the success of the operation.

Assistance to reservoir fisheries in Peru

Peru, with only five percent of its 261 reservoirs exploited from the fisheries point of view, has requested the assistance of FAO through a Technical Cooperation Programme Project (TCP). Started in October 2001, the project aims at creating appropriate technologies to identify and exploit those water bodies where fisheries can be enhanced or pond-based aquaculture can be developed. The main expertise in this case derives from the application of current policies on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC), and a consultant from Cuba, a country in the Region with wide proven experience in this area, is providing the assistance required.

Diversification of aquaculture in Mexico

The State of Campeche, in Mexico, has excellent natural conditions for the development of aquaculture. In order to express this potential, the local government has supported several related initiatives. In 1997, the Fisheries Secretary funded the creation of a hatchery for the production of marine fingerlings. FAO has been asked to provide assistance in the experimental culture of shrimp (Penaeus duorarum) and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) as a follow up to a FAO-Mexico Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) that in 1995 identified development models for integrated coastal lagoon planning.

Started in April 2001, this projectís main objectives are the diversification of aquaculture production through the use of existing coastal resources and the consolidation of mariculture through the application of suitable biotechnology. The project aims not only to develop the necessary technology, but also to transfer it to low-income social groups. Therefore, the project has experimental, extension and training components.

Fish feed development support to Cuba

From 1998 to 1999, a TCP project was implemented by FAO in Cuba to develop alternative technologies to produce feed for cultured fish. The achievements of this joint work with Cuban experts from the Ministry of Fisheries Industry exceeded the expectations. As a follow up, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has funded a new project to be implemented by FAO addressed to the industrialization of the newly developed technologies. The main component of the project is the construction, equipping and setting up of a processing plant at the Center of Aquaculture Training in Mamposton (CEPAM). Experimental results obtained so far indicate a significant reduction in the cost of the feed. The new plant will allow for further experimentation, and for distribution and supply to existing aquaculture farms all over the country in order to validate the results at an industrial scale. A consultant from Colombia has been engaged under the TCDC scheme.

Demonstration fish farm in Guyana

The Government of Guyana has allocated funds for the construction and operation of a freshwater demonstration farm and asked FAO for assistance for that purpose. Farmers currently operating in sugar and rice production are interested in diversifying their operations and would like to allocate portions of their land to the culture of freshwater fish for sale in the local and export markets. The local demand for freshwater fish is high. The main purpose of the aquaculture station will be to stimulate and promote growth in the aquaculture industry. Human resource development will form one of the principal objectives of the Freshwater Aquaculture Demonstration Farm and Training Center, providing skills to the private sector. The Government intends to provide the private sector with incentives to encourage their involvement and investment in the development of aquaculture in Guyana.

The FAO TCP project was implemented in four phases to allow for financial adjustments. The first phase started in January 2000. The final size of the farm will be smaller than originally planned, but will permit the development of the main objectives of the station and will achieve the total aim in stages.

Management of fisheries and aquaculture in Colombia/Peru

In March 2002, a TCP project was approved to support the management of fisheries and aquaculture in the Putumayo River in the Amazonian border area of Colombia and Peru. The project aims at increasing the technical capacity of both countries to formulate a sustainable development plan for the management of the inland fisheries and aquaculture resource. The study will include the techno-biological aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the socio-economic environment and the legal and institutional framework.