Pirarucu Management: Achievements and Results that Generate Income and Promote Land and Species Conservation

Man holds freshly caught pirarucu
Initiatives such as a virtual store and recognition for conservation strengthen the chain

June/July 2023 – Thanks to the joint work of Indigenous peoples, traditional riverine communities, local organizations, researchers, support staff, and partner entities, the sustainably managed Pirarucu value chain in the Médio Juruá has promoted the conservation of the species and made significant process in recent months.

The achievements include: the opening of a virtual store for the sale of Amazon sociobiodiversity products to residents of Manaus, Amazonas; launching a new website for the Pirarucu Collective; and recognition of the importance of the Pirarucu value chain’s work by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). For more information, check this link. 

The Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC), the organization in charge of commercial arrangements for the Taste of the Amazon initiative, brought together more than 500 people for its annual meeting; they presented the results of this year's activities and discussed future projects. In 2022, ASPROC purchased 440 tons of Pirarucu from ten management areas across the territory. This represents a 43 percent increase over the previous year, benefiting over 800 families.

According to a partial fishing report for 2022, based on data presented by the Pirarucu Collective community associations, 23,000 managed fish were caught. This represents a R$6.3 million turnover, generating income for more than 1,600 families (read more about it here).

In addition to generating socioeconomic benefits, the sustainable management of Amazon’s resources plays a key role for biodiversity conservation and territorial protection in at least 30 areas in the Amazon, including extractive reserves, sustainable development reserves, Indigenous lands and fisheries agreement areas. 

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

It includes 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 Education Institute (IEB), with the participation of other partners – and the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ), a territorial development initiative coordinated by SITAWI that has supported more than 3,000 people and conserved 1 million hectares. 

In addition to USAID's support, the PTMJ (more details here) has a partnership with Natura, the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA), and the Alliance of Bioversity & CIAT. Its actions are implemented by local organizations. 

Preparation – June is the month in which local organizations and partners from Médio Juruá communities meet to outline their Pirarucu management plans. Once completed, fishing will commence in September. 

The amount of fish each community is allowed to catch and sell depends on a quota established by official agencies, which is based on the fish count carried out in the first half of the year.

Developed and improved over the past few decades, these sustainable management techniques resulted in large numbers of Pirarucu (known as the “giant of the Amazon”) returning to local rivers. Pirarucu was an endangered risk species in the early 1990s.

Over the past 20 years, some Pirarucu populations have grown by more than 600 percent. Management practices helped to increase fish stocks of other species, such as Tambaqui, Black Caiman, turtle, Tracajá, Manatee, and others.