A study along the Amazon has demonstrated the benefits to the livelihoods in replenishing important fish stocks.
Turns out Arapaima play a vital role in the Amazon’s ecosystem and in the local impoverished economies, after a recent study focused on the worlds largest scaled fresh water fish, the Arapaima gigas. Unfortunately, Arapaima populations have been in a state of decline.
Using eight years of data to measure the variance in population sizes between managed and open access lakes housing the fish, the study demonstrated a rebound in populations of previously overfished lakes.
The rebounding of fish populations will bring in managed commercial fishing, which will improve the local economies.
The study compared lakes along a tributary to the Amazon: the Juruá river (pictured avove), using them like a high-interest savings account to demonstrate the vitality of the river for local food security (which leaves me wishing fish were money).
Professors Carlos Peres from the Univeristy of East Anglia and Dr. João Campos-Silva of Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte of Brazil led the analysis. Professor Peres says something we already know:
“Our analysis showed that community-based management of freshwater lakes can have profound impacts on conservation and local engagement. Local stewardship, in situ surveillance, full-time enforcement of resource access rights, and management of high-value fish stocks were the most important factors in boosting arapaima populations across a wide range of lakes, especially in close proximity to communities. Boosting these fish populations offers not only much-needed animal protein for the local community but also an unprecedented source of income.”
That’s some definitive proof that proper stewardship and management of our wildlife benefits everyone in the community. While the proof is there it may not last. In the Amazon a lack of governance makes it hard to enforce these regulations. Hopefully, the Brazilian government sees the importance of this study and creates some incentives for community based conservation.