What is Pirarucu?
The sustainable handling of Pirarucu or Arapaima, a native Brazilian fish that weighs up to 200 kilos and is more than 2 meters long is developing increasingly. It is taking place in 7 extractive reserves supervised by the respected Chico Mendes Institute, and the Brazilian federal government in the northern states of Amazonas and Acre.
The activity benefits about 400 families in conservation units and reached profits of over 1.5 million US dollars in 2016.
According to the coordinator of Production and Sustainable Use of ICMBio, João da Mata, to ensure the sustainable management of the species, it is necessary to implement the zoning of the lakes and monitor the number of fish at each place.
How to keep track?
The counting is done by the traditional knowledge of fishermen, who use vision and hearing to identify juvenile pirarucu fish and adults (over 1.5 m). They then register them on a form. This process is necessary to determine the catch quotas and annually evaluate the growth of the fish stock. “A fishing ceiling of up to 30% of the population of this species is established”, explains the coordinator.
In response to the implementation of sustainable handling practices, in the early years, the Pirarucu population showed positive signs of recovery.
Keeping it Sustainable
“In the past, fishing took place throughout the year and sales were made by each family, in small quantities, for middlemen. In the system of sustainable management, this fishing started to be in a group and the sale was carried out through community associations or fishermen’s co-ops,” says João da Mata.
In addition, fishing began to be carried out only during the dry season (from September to November), respecting the reproductive cycle of the species. This also had the consequence of improving the logistics and the control of the supervising authorities and making the fish easier to catch. For the rest of the year, community members are dedicated to family farming, small-scale livestock and forestry handling.
Importance of Community Development
“Once residents are involved in monitoring the lakes, we have a positive result in stockpiles of the species. This has been paramount in a community involvement strategy aimed at the management and handling of fishery resources” concludes the coordinator.
Currently, the Fisheries Management Program advises 11 groups of fishermen. They work in lake systems, distributed in the Mamirauá and Amanã Sustainable Development Reserves and in their surroundings, in the region of the medium Solimões River. The technical advice extends to 40 riverside communities, three colonies and a fishermen’s union of the neighbouring municipalities, totalling 1,537 fishermen. A lot of people got a chance to participate in a formal economy and are being positively affected by the sustainable handling of Pirarucu.
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