How does the sustainable fishing of pirarucu happen in the Amazon?

The sustainable management of the species respects the limits of biodiversity while promoting socioeconomic development. Find out how the PTMJ contributes to achieving this goal.

The Middle Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ) is an initiative that has several socio-environmental projects for the sustainable development of the region, located in Carauari (AM). One of the actions carried out is the sustainable management of wild pirarucu. It is done within the preservation limits established by Ibama and using strategies that conserve the species and its habitat. Management also contributes to expanding female participation in the activity, in addition to ensuring governance for the communities in the territory. PTMJ's actions are coordinated by Sitawi, rely on several strategic partners and are implemented at the end by local organizations.

Why arapaima?

Known as the ?giant of fresh waters?, the pirarucu is essential for the maintenance of the environment and also for the riverside communities. This fish can weigh over 200 kg and is found in the calm waters of the Amazon. During the 1980s, the species was the target of intense exploitation, which led to its local extinction in some regions.

More recently, in 2004, Ibama adopted a methodology that unites scientific knowledge and the knowledge of riverside dwellers to stipulate sustainable fishing limits. Thus, the sustainable management of pirarucu in the Amazonian lakes started to respect the quota limits, stipulated in 30% of the total population of animals. Management is one of several activities carried out to promote biodiversity conservation and better social, economic and environmental conditions for the population of the Middle Juruá.

How does management take place?

Coordinated by the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC ), the sustainable management of pirarucu ensures that riverside families have income and that the ecosystem is preserved. This activity involves defined steps, including: 

  • the zoning of lakes in which management can take place;
  • monitoring the areas so that undue exploitation does not occur;
  • the counting of animals;
  • fishing. 

Riverside communities have the autonomy to decide how the fishing and gutting process will take place. In general, the catch of fish in the lakes is followed by transport to a nearby floating base. The treatment for the removal of viscera is up to the teams of each community. In the case of Carauari, this stage is where female collaboration is most present.

Through the PTMJ, handling the pirarucu became an initiative for the emancipation of riverside women. Before, women's roles in the community were limited to housework or gardening. Today, the gutting team is essential not only to ensure sustainable management, but to strengthen the idea that women play a fundamental role in generating income for the territory, since in nearby communities this work is done only by men. 

Main results

The PTMJ is in its second phase, which started in mid-2021 and runs until 2024. In the last management season, which took place in 2021, more than 90 tons of pirarucu were produced. As a result, 209 families in 17 communities in the Middle Juruá benefited from the project and obtained resources to transform their realities. Governance is a topic of extreme importance in the territory. It is through it that popular participation is stimulated in activities, ensuring that the inhabitants prosper economically. 

In addition to the positive social impact, the environment is directly benefited by the activity carried out. Sustainable management practices for pirarucu prevent the species itself from being exploited, but also contribute to the protection of other species, such as chelonians, boosting biodiversity conservation. 

The PTMJ has USAID, Natura and the Partners for the Amazon Platform (PPA) as strategic partners. The Bioversity/CIAT Alliance participates as an institutional partner. In addition, six local community organizations are implementing partners of the action (ASPROC, ASMAMJ, AMECSARA, AMARU, CODAEMJ and ASPODEX). The program also has the support of ICMBio, State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA) and OPAN.

Do you want to know how this and other activities of the Middle Juruá Territory Program have transformed the lives of the local population? Check out the report with the results of the first year of the second phase of the program.

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