James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund

The NEC James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund


To quote Janne Ekstrøm's article in AMAZONAS 31, September/Oktober 2010, Seite 8–12,

"We, the humanity on Earth, have only two choices: We either stand back and watch when our beautiful planet turns into dust or we act and do something about the problem before it’s too late."

The NEC Conservation Committee was established to help conservation efforts through fundraising and donations to well-established and working conservation groups.  For several years now the Committee has hosted a silent auction at the Annual NEC Convention to benefit organizations that are involved in conservation.

The History of James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund

Jim passed away suddenly on August 3, 2010 at the young age of 46. He was a long time member of the Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society and served as auctioneer at many of his sister club auctions. We miss him greatly.

Jim was active in the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies for many years, working first for PVAS and in the last 14 years with the NEC as well. Jim was also very involved in breeding fish, bringing fish to other club auctions and participating in the NEC Breeder Participation Program.

Jim’s dedication to the NEC was fierce and he wore many hats. First he served as PVAS’s delegate and he went on to serve as a BOD member (since 1998) and Vice President of the NEC for several 2-year terms. He was a consistent volunteer at our annual Convention, running the fish room during the Sunday auction, being a runner and auction feeder; as he honed his auctioneering skills he became the main auctioneer for the NEC and all the NEC Clubs. For many years Jim chaired the Competitive Events Committee and ran the Photo Contest. Recently he organized the Conservation Committee’s efforts to raise money for fish-related conservation efforts around the world.

Jim worked for the benefit of the aquarium hobby, clubs and the NEC, both in the background as well as in the spotlight. His efforts were highlighted in 2005 when he was awarded the NEC’s highest honor, the Betty Mueller Award. Jim represented the NEC well and his adorable face and dedication to the aquarium hobby will be sadly missed throughout the clubs in the Northeast.

The NEC honors the dedication that Jim had for the Conservation Committee’s efforts by renaming the fund as the James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund.


Our freshwater conservation recipient is Project Piaba's

"Supporting the Development of Best Handling Practices for aquarium fish of

Brazil’s Rio Negro"

The NEC has been a longtime supporter of Project Piaba (www.projectpiaba.org) and the socioeconomically and environmentally beneficial aquarium fishery of Brazil’s Rio Negro. The aquarium hobby is the driver of the sustainable fishery that provides the basis of livelihoods for rural Amazonians. Since the people living in these regions of extremely high biological importance are connected to the health of the environment via their dependence on robust fish populations, they have become very effective protectors of the entire tropical floodplain.

For this fishery to continue in a way that will maximize benefits to fishing communities, the environment, and the hobby community, the Fish must be handled and cared for in the best way possible. In 2016, through a generous grant from the World Pet Association, the Project Piaba ground team in Brazil has been trained in Best Handling Practices protocols and given teaching material to train groups of fishers. As an As an outcome of this training, a Brazilian student has taken this project on as the subject of his PhD. Arnold Lugo grew up in his parents' fish store in South America and he has had a lifelong passion for aquarium fish. Arnold has an intuitive sense for how best to handle aquarium fish and Project Piaba is thrilled that he has chosen for focus on this topic for his Doctorate.

Project Piaba is seeking the NEC JJW Conservation Award to provide funding for Arnold to conduct field work with the fishing communities to implement Best Handling Practices, and measure the effect of the fish, the market impact, economic impacts for fishing communities, and increased value and protection for the Rio Negro ecosystem.




Our saltwater recipient is the

Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF)

in collaboration

with the New England Aquarium's


"Workshop on sustainable collection of larvae reef fish and early care for aquarium marine fish with the Bahamas people"

The New England Aquarium has with other collaborators developed methods to improve sustainable collection of aquarium fish ex-situ at New England Aquarium which involves larvae collection and grow out. The goal of this effort is to reduce the number of adult species taken from the wild. Wild collection takes place annually on a collection trip for exhibits takes place annually in the Bahamas. The opportunity to share the larvae collection and grow out learning with the local Bahamas community to open the sharing of this technology would benefit the Bahamas community and provide perhaps a pathway to the Bahamas opening more sustainable aquarium fish facilities to support local efforts to protect reefs and the species that depend on them. In addition, this effort might also lead to an economic benefit for the local Bahamas people with a collection and grow out facility which would be uniquely positioned to supply fish more broadly. The search for more sustainable and beneficial marine fish is one that is sought after by many public aquariums as well as the fish hobby. This unique marketing aspect is appealing to at least 10% of the fishkeeping population as well as an improved perception by the general public.

The aquarium hobby can be the driver of a sustainable marine fishery that provides the basis of livelihoods for many rural Bahama people. The objective of this workshop would be to share best practices and provide assistance for a set up program in the Bahamas. This would also provide a wider opportunity to use this program as a pilot which could be replicated in other rural tropical areas where marine fish are collected.

Since the people living in these regions of extremely high biological importance are connected to the health of the environment via their dependence on robust fish populations, they have become very effective protectors of the reefs which they depend.

Barbara Bailey and her team at New England Aquarium is uniquely positioned to conduct a workshop for the local Bahama people to share the New England Aquarium’s methods for collecting larvae, identifying species, raising young fish and troubleshooting difficulties and barriers to successful grow out of the fish.

The New England Aquarium collecting trip occurs each year in the Bahamas so the team will already be on location. Funds from the NEC JJW Memorial Conservation Fund would fund materials needed for the workshop as well as rental of a workshop space and a modest stipend for the participants.

The New England Aquarium is a catalyst for global change through public engagement, commitment to marine animal conservation, leadership in education, innovative scientific research, and effective advocacy for vital and vibrant oceans. New England Aquarium

This workshop would be a first in transferring the knowledge and experiences of the biologists at New England Aquarium collecting and raising larvae to the local people in-situ. The ex-situ to in-situ transfer of knowledge would be a first and this modest effort could result in significant and positive outcomes for the local people, for the hobby and for the public institutions which rely on wild collecting. Furthermore, when the local people rely on and protect their local reefs, broader benefits are realized from coral reef protection, to protection and thriving of adult species populations and more.

To donate fish for the James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund Silent Auction, please send an email to our Convention Chairman

To make a monetary donatation to our James J. White Memorial Conservation Fund,

please go to the convention registration cart at



The James J White Memorial Conservation Fund in action

Our conservation fund has supported the following organizations:

2001    American Cichlid Association’s Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund
2002    Project Piaba
2003    Pupfish of Southwest US
2004    Fish Ark Mexico
2005    American Killifish Association’s George Maier Fund
2006    CARES Preservation Program
2007    Project Amazonas
2008    Project Piaba
2009    Conservation Fisheries
2010    Project Amazonas
2011    International Rivers, American Livebearer Association’s Langhammer Fund for Conservation, and the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund
2012    CARES Preservation Program and Center for Research in Global Change and Sustainability
2013    Indonesian Marine Ornamental Symposium (LINI) and Conservation Aquariums in the Classroom

2014    The Goodeid Working Group (GWG) and Project Seahorse

2015     Conservation International and Ozalul (Innovation for Marine Conservation)

2016     The Congo Project (American Museum of Natural History) and The Nature Conservancy


Updates on past conservation recipients

Stuart S. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund Update:


The Goodeid Working Group:

plans to put the funding to use over the next six months. Our goals are to

1) Provide material and technical support for the conservation of rare goodeids in captivity and in the wild by the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas Hidalgo in Morelia, Mexico; and

2) Help pay costs associated with bringing new populations of rare goodeids into the U.S. and distributing them to serious hobbyists and public aquaria/zoos for long-term captive maintenance.