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Capture Fishery and Aquaculture Potential in the State of Amapa, Brazil


Lovshin, Leonard, Richard Wallace, Fernando Kubitza, Ronaldo Barthem

Date: 1997

Funding Agency: Champion International Corporation

Keywords: amapa, brazil, amazon, aquaculture, fisheries, international development, south america,

Category: International Country Report

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A four-man team composed of two aquaculture specialists and two capture
fishery specialists was fielded by the International Center for Aquaculture and
Aquatic Environments, Auburn University under contract to Champion
International Corporation to evaluate the potential for aquaculture, and
expansion of the capture fisheries in the state of Amapa, Brazil. The team spent
June 16 to 24 in the city of Belem, Para and Amapa interviewing government
officials, fish and shrimp processors and fishermen. Visits were made to local
fish markets, suppliers of animal feeds and agricultural chemicals in Belem and
Macapa, a feed mill in Belem, port facilities in Amapa City, Cal<;oene, and
Santana, and two fish farmers in Macapa. Car and plane travel allowed
observation of water and land resources for aquaculture in eastern and central
Amapa. Total alkalinity, hardness and pH were measured in numerous rivers,
two lakes and two fish ponds.
The two industrialized capture fisheries enterprises in the region are for
piramutaba, a schooling Amazon River catfish, and for marine shrimp along
the north coast of Amapa. Numerous other freshwater and marine fishes are
captured by artisanal fishermen. Pescada amarela (Acoupa weakfish) and
gurijuba (sea catfish) are two high-valued marine fishes captured in coastal
waters on the north coast of Amapa by artisanal fishermen. The piramutaba
fishery is centered in the lower Amazon River and its estuary near Belem, Para,
while the marine shrimp fishery is located primarily north and south of the
Amazon River mouth. The number of boats allowed to fish and times of year
when fishing is permitted are controlled by the government for both marine
shrimp and piramutaba. In 1993,48 boats caught 10,000 metric tons of
piramutaba. Piramutaba exported to the U. S. was valued at 3 million dollars.
One hundred and sixty-five shrimp vessels registered in Para and Amapa
harvested 3,172 metric tons of marine shrimp in 1995. Most piramutaba and
marine shrimp along with much of the freshwater and marine fish caught by
artisanal fishermen are landed in Belem for processing because facilities are
more extensive, unloading of the catch is quicker and prices paid are higher
than in Santana. The piramutaba fishery is located closer to Belem than Santana
and processing should remain centered in Belem. However, the marine shrimp
and fish capture fishery on the north coast of Amapa is much closer to
processing facilities in Santana than Belem. Modernization of fish processing
facilities in Santana, and the construction of a new processing facility in
Calc;oene on the north coast of Amapa, coupled with an increase in prices
offered to fisherman, could entice most of the north coast catch to Amapa.
Investment in a modern, fish processing plant, or modernization of an existing
processing facility, could prove lucrative. Major expansion of the marine
shrimp fishery does not seem advisable based on existing data. Catch per unit
effort of marine shrimp suggests that more boats will not significantly increase
the catch but more information is needed on lesser known shrimp found in

both deep and shallow water. However, there may be opportunities for
expansion of the shrimp fleet in Santana given the current processing capability
and proximity to the northern shrimp grounds. Catch rates and potential yields
of the principal marine fishes captured in shallow coastal waters are not
known, so expansion should proceed with caution and adequate monitoring.
Amapa has vast quantities of land and flowing and standing water that can be

used for farming fish in earthen ponds, flowing water, or cages. A humid,

tropical climate, modern port facilities, fish processing and cold storage
facilities, and duty free privileges on imports, are other features offered by
Amapa in support of aquaculture development. However, while abundant and
free of pollutants, water tested in Amapa has low mineral content and total
alkalinity which makes the water unproductive unless corrected with
limestone. No limestone deposits are exploited in Amapa at this time.
Production systems based on primary production of phytoplankton, even when
pond waters are fertilized, will not yield many fish per area of water without
limestone applications. Systems that do not depend on primary production to
feed fish require nutritionally balanced, pelleted diets to grow fish and obtain
high yields. Fish feeds available in Macapa are expensive. No pelleted fish
feeds are made in Amapa or Belem. Pe!leted fish feeds sold in Macapa are
manufactured in south-central Brazil and are trucked to Amapa. Amapa has
few agricultural by-products or grains that could

be used to make fish feeds.

Overland transportation costs to Amapa are expensive because trucks are
barged across the Amazon River.
The only fish species native to the Amazon River that have proven suitable for
fish culture are tambaqui, pirapitinga and matrinxa. All can be fed with local
fruits, nuts, and seeds, corn and other grains, as well as pelleted fish diets.
However, overseas markets for these bony fishes are undeveloped and may
prove difficult to enter. No other fishes from the Amazon River have been
tested for culture suitability although a number of native fishes may prove
excellent for farming after extensive testing in research ponds. Non-native
tilapia is found in Amapa and is the best species available for farming at this
time. Culture methods for tilapia are well developed and established markets
for processed tilapia are found in the U. S. and Europe. The legality of culturing
a fish exotic to the Amazon River system in Amapa must

be established with

the federal government. Presently, whatever fish is farmed in large quantities

in Amapa will have to be sold outside of cities located on or near the Amazon
River. Fish captured from the Amazon River are still readily available for
reasonable prices in cities located on or near the river. Most farmed fish can not
be priced low enough to compete with fish captured from the rivers. Most
farmed fish will have to be sold in the south of Brazil or overseas.
At this time, the high cost of limestone, fertilizers and fish feeds purchased in
Brazil and trucked to Amapa increases production costs and makes fish farming
a high risk investment. Fish farmed in Amapa would have to compete in the

market with fish grown in other regions of Brazil and in other countries with a
tropical climate. Importation of large quantities of fish feeds or fish feed
ingredients and limestone by ship from the south of Brazil or the U. S. may
improve the economic viability of farming fish in Amapa.

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