Abundance of paiche in four indigenous territories of Bolivia's Northern Amazon

Abundance of paiche in four indigenous territories of Bolivia's Northern Amazon

In coordination with the Central Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIRABO), the Peces para la Vida II Project completed a participatory evaluation of paiche abundance and distribution in rivers and lagoons in four indigenous territories (TCOs) of the Beni Department .

Paiche abundance is variable: between 21 fish per hectare (in the TCO Chácobo-Pacahura) and three fish per hectare (in the TCO TIM II). To better understand this species’ distribution and potential in different aquatic systems, indigenous fishers performed their first paiche counts, using methods developed for paiche and river dolphins when they emerge to breathe at the surface (paiche are an air-breathing fish). The PPVII team also completed an ecological characterization of water bodies inhabited by paiche.

The team included two indigenous fishers with experience in paiche fisheries, and a research technician. During the 47-day period, they visited 35 lagoons, and five rivers in 16 communities, benefitting from the support and guidance of 19 indigenous fishers.

Preliminary conclusions indicate that paiche abundance in these TCOs depends on factors such as the size of the water system and fishing pressure. These factors, among others, have an impact on the fishers’ economy. Fishers have the potential to improve their quality of life by adopting a paiche exploitation plan, taking into account equitable market conditions, and a national program for paiche fisheries in indigenous territories.

Participatory paiche counting was co-financed by the “National Institute for Fisheries and Forestry Innovation” (INIAF), of Bolivia’s Ministry of Land and Rural Development, through the Project “Technical bases for the sustainable exploitation of paiche fish (Arapaima gigas)”.

Fernando Carvajal, FAUNAGUA, fernando.carvajal@faunagua.org
Sergio Villafán Coca, FAUNAGUA, sergiovillafancoca@gmail.com

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