Pirarucu management: achievements and results that generate income and conserve the territory

Novelties such as a virtual store and recognition for conservation strengthen the chain

Management of Pirarucu carried out by riverside dwellers in the lake, Marari Grande from the Xibauazinho community in the RDS Uacari, Medio Jurua region in Carauari, Amazonas, Brazil. September 2021. Photo: Bruno Kelly.

Resulting from the joint work of indigenous peoples, traditional riverside populations, local organizations, researchers, technicians and partner entities, the chain of sustainable management of pirarucu in the Middle Juruá, in addition to promoting the conservation of the species, has registered several achievements in recent months.

Among them was the inauguration of a virtual store for the sale of Amazon socio-biodiversity products to residents of Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas; the launch of a new website with information and news about Coletivo do Pirarucu; and recognition of the importance of the work by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Access more information at this link.

In addition, the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC), responsible for the commercial arrangement of the Gosto da Amazônia initiative, brought together more than 500 people in its annual assembly, when there was the rendering of accounts of the activities of the year and the discussion of future projects. . In 2022, ASPROC purchased 440 tons of Pirarucu in ten management areas throughout the territory. This represents an increase of 43% over the previous year, benefiting over 800 families.

According to the partial balance of fishing for 2022, based on data presented by the Coletivo community associations, 23,000 managed Pirarucus were caught, handling around R$ 6.3 million and generating income for more than 1,600 families (read more here).

In addition to the socioeconomic benefits, sustainable management plays a fundamental role in the conservation of biodiversity and territorial protection of at least 30 areas in the Amazon, including Extractive Reserves, Sustainable Development Reserves, Indigenous Lands and Fisheries Agreement Areas.

These results are part of the strategy to strengthen the Pirarucu production chain, which receives support from USAID/Brazil, through the Partnership for the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Amazon (PCAB).

It includes projects such as Sustainable Value Chains – under the coordination of the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Institute of Education of Brazil (IEB), with the participation of others partners – and the Middle Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ), a territorial development initiative coordinated by Sitawi that has already supported more than 3,000 people and conserved 1 million hectares. In addition to USAID support, the PTMJ (read more here) has a partnership with Natura, Plataforma Parceiros pela Amazônia (PPA) and the Bioversity & CIAT Alliance, and its actions are implemented by local organizations.

Preparation – June is the month when managers, technicians and local organizations and partners from the Middle Juruá communities meet to outline the management plan for Pirarucu in lakes in the region. With this step accomplished, fishing is usually scheduled for September.

The amount of fish that each community is entitled to catch and sell depends on the quota authorized by the official bodies, which is defined based on the count carried out in the first semester.

Developed and improved over the last few decades, these sustainable management techniques have ensured the return in abundance of the Pirarucu, known as the “giant of the Amazon”, to local rivers. The species even entered the endangered list in the early 1990s. In the last 20 years, some Pirarucu populations have grown by more than 600%. Management practices also helped to increase stocks of species such as tambaqui, black caiman, turtle, tracajá, manatee and others.