Veterinary Externship opportunity: Project Piaba – Sustainable Fisheries and Conservation medicine on the Rio Negro, Brazil.

Project Piaba was initiated almost 30 years ago with the goal of supporting the wild-caught aquarium fisheries on the middle reaches of the Rio Negro, one of the major tributaries of the Amazon River. This well-documented sustainable fishery is under increasing threat of collapse due to competition from farm-raised Brazilian fish species that are currently produced in Asia. Further, the local fishing communities have been instrumental in protecting the  local riverine and rainforest environments the incursions of logging, mining and cattle ranching. Thus, this fishery enhances protection of the rainforest in this region while providing important socio-economic benefits to the local populations. While there is still strong demand for sustainable collected wild-species the international competition has put increasing demand on the local fisheries to improve efficiencies and overall fish handling and health management practices.


Veterinary students participating in this 2-week expedition will have the opportunity to experience the multiple ways in which veterinarians can become involved with conservation and sustainable development projects and utilize their skills to not only improve the health of the local aquatic species but also the lives of the local human populations.


The expedition length is two weeks. Students will travel to Manaus, Brazil and travel upriver via riverboat approximately 500 miles to the main fishing grounds and then back downriver to the primary transit stations and ultimately to the export facilities in Manaus. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna in the region as well as the sociological conditions and pressures on the fishing communities in this region. They will also have an opportunity to meet the local fishers, middlemen and exporters and develop an understanding of the importance of this fishery to the local communities.


Veterinary students will participate in the evaluation of overall husbandry and health management of the fish collected within this fishery throughout the chain of custody from collection to export. They will carry out health examinations of fish throughout the chain of custody and learn about the change health management and disease problems associated with each stage of the chain of custody. Students will complete a small project and participate in the facilitated roundtable held at the end of the expedition to set goals for the next year and identify emerging needs or threats.


There is also a strong possibility that interested students could arrive January 15-16 and spend some time participating in some health assessment work onsite in Manaus at a local Exporter and outside of Manaus at a large fish holding farm. This aspect of the program is still being developed but should be finalized by early Spring 2018.



Here’s some particulars:


We’re working on the itinerary which you’ll find here:


Here’s a video Oregon Sea Grant produced about the fishery on the Rio Negro and the travels of these fish to Oregon, We shot this footage on the trip in 2014.



Here’s some more information:



2 weeks on the boat in Brazil approximately $2,750. A 50% deposit saves your spot.

all included except alcohol or carbonated/bottled beverages and crew tip

Brazilian tourist visa ($100)

airfare $1,200 – $1,300 from most US cities


Any questions, feel free to send  me  an email or give a call: 541-270-4218

Also, feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or if anyone would like to talk about the trip, I’ve been 6 times and will be participating every year for the foreseeable future. I’m happy to do pre trip talks if there is interest.


Hope to see you in Brazil.





Timothy J. Miller-Morgan, DVM, CertAqV

Lead, Aquatic Animal Health Program, Oregon Sea Grant, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Instructor, Aquatic Animal Health Management, Aquarium Science Program, Oregon Coast Community College

Veterinarian/Trainer, Project Piaba, Brazil

Member, Steering Committee, IUCN, FFSG –HASG

Chair, Credentialing Committee, World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association




Hatfield Marine Science Center

Oregon State University

2030 Marine Science Drive

Newport, OR 97365

(541) 867-0265 (office)

(541) 867-0320 (fax)

Skype Name: h20doc

Web sites:





Consider attending or presenting at the 2018 WAVMA St. Kitts Conference ( 


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