Essential for the conservation of wild pirarucu in the Amazon, the sustainable management carried out by riverside and indigenous communities in the Middle Juruá territory has been helping to strengthen the fish production chain and generating income for the handlers. Now this chain has gained reinforcement: the beginning of operation of the warehouse, in the municipality of Carauari (AM).
The site has the capacity to process, on average, 5 tons of fish per day and the structure to store up to 300 tons of fish before it is sent for sale. An adult arapaima can measure between 2 and 3 meters and its weight can vary from 100 to 200 kilos. At the warehouse, employees cut, freeze and pack the product. In addition to pirarucu, other types of fish are also being processed at the warehouse, such as tambaqui and surubim.
Installation and management are under the responsibility of the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC), which previously depended on hiring outsourced slaughterhouses to process pirarucu, generating costs and operational difficulties. The construction of the enterprise was made possible through several partnerships, and USAID/Brazil was among them.
The sustainable management of the wild arapaima, one of the largest fish with scales in the world, ensures that the forests and waters in the areas where the activity takes place are protected from external threats and pressures. It promotes the conservation of fish and other species, maintaining ecosystem services and contributing to avoiding carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Between 2012 and 2016, the average increase in the amount of pirarucu in monitored Conservation Units was 19% per year, according to a survey by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). In the Middle Juruá alone, the number of fish counted in the monitored lakes has grown by more than 70% in the last four years, from around 14,300 in 2018 to almost 25,000 in 2021.
?The warehouse has a great objective, which is to absorb the production of our environment. We had to send all the fish to Manaus and that raised costs. Our handler had more expense. The objective is to reduce costs, have quality production and consequently improve the price for our handlers and their quality of life?, says Manuel Siqueira, president of ASPROC.
For Adevaldo Dias, adviser to the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC) and president of the Chico Mendes Memorial, the warehouse will allow the processing of pirarucu in a place closer to the communities that fish, contributing even more to the quality of the product. ?It guarantees a fair price for the operator and autonomy in the chain. In addition, we were able to involve more local residents by training them to work on site,” says Dias.
Training - Currently, 12 residents of the Middle Juruá communities have been hired to work at the warehouse, half of whom are women. They were nominated by the communities themselves and underwent training in the first half of this year.
?Our warehouse works today with labor from the community members themselves, who underwent training. Since they are owners, can they feel increasingly responsible for the sustainability, work and quality of the product processed here?, summarizes Siqueira.
It is exactly this responsibility for the quality of work that warehouse employee Everaldo dos Santos Araújo expresses. A resident of the Bauana community, located in the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS), Araújo says that the construction of the place was the result of "a dream come true after a lot of struggle".
?Thanks to the people who represent the association today, with responsibility, we concluded this warehouse here. I was chosen by the community, I passed the test, I took the training and today I'm working. It makes me proud, it's rewarding for me?, says Araújo, who is the father of ten children.
And he adds: “I left my family in the community, but I am here to help more and more, to do my best so that we can become stronger. Today we are working with fish from our management that has been preserved”.
Text: Luciana Constantino