Fishing For The Largest Freshwater Species is a Collective Enterprise

Pirarucu Management is participatory and transparent in the Médio Juruá Territory

August, 2023 - Pirarucu fishing is carried out at the community level by local organizations. Every year in September, communities in the Médio Juruá Territory, in the state of Amazonas fish for the largest freshwater species in the world. 

Managers, community-based organizations, experts, researchers, and social partners from the Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC) meet to evaluate the previous year’s management and start planning the steps for the current harvest. These include a plan for territorial protection and surveillance of aquatic environments, management costs and revenues, estimation of production capacity, and organizing each community for fishing.

The amount of fish communities sell depends on a limit (quota) set by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), based on the previous year’s fish count. ASPROC leads an innovative commercial arrangement developed to place pirarucu in the market, through its own collective brand, known as Taste of the Amazon

This year, more than 230 people participated in the assessment and planning meeting for lake management in the Médio Juruá region. The event was held at the Bauana community, in the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve. 

The meeting seeks to guarantee the necessary conditions for the sustainable use of natural resources to generate income for local riverine families. This is a key aspect for strengthening pirarucu management in the area. Another goal is to ensure that all management steps take place in a participatory, transparent, and efficient manner. 

“The gathering helps to make all communities aware of what is happening, to engage them in collective discussions, planning, and decision-making. That is the most important aspect of all. This event is awaited by all male and female managers and provides a space where we can all voice our demands. Good planning is of paramount importance for everyone. It is up to us to agree on dates and organize ourselves in the best possible way, so that our joint work may benefit everyone,” says José Alves de Moraes, known as Silas, a pirarucu manager from the Lago Serrado community.

In addition, participants discussed other issues, including sustainable pirarucu traceability, the pirarucu export project, and the perspectives of obtaining a fair-trade seal. 

The strategy to strengthen the pirarucu production chain receives support from USAID/Brazil. It includes the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ), a territorial development initiative coordinated by SITAWI Finance for Good, which has supported more than 3,000 people and conserved 1 million hectares. In addition to USAID's support, the PTMJ also works in partnership with Natura, the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA), and the Alliance of Bioversity & CIAT. All actions are implemented by local organizations.

It is also included in the Sustainable Value Chains project, coordinated by the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and Brazil's International Institute of Education (IEB), with the support of other partners. 

Agency – The Pirarucu Collective brought together several sustainable management initiatives in the state of Amazonas to jointly develop strategies for strengthening and adding value to the chain. They held their first online meeting of the year to discuss topics related to preparations for the fishing season. More than 50 people representing 18 organizations were present at the meeting.

The agenda included a presentation on projected figures for 2023.  The projected pirarucu catch is estimated at 34,589 by November, this will directly engage over 3,000 people from various management communities in the Amazon (read more in Portuguese).