Conservation Strategy Fund helps local conservationists use economic tools to find smart, efficient solutions to the most urgent environmental problems. Since its creation in 1998, CSF has conducted dozens of analysis projects in forests, rivers and coastal environments. Most of our work has focused in the tropics, where extraordinarily high levels of biological diversity are found. To maximize the reach and quality of our work, we involve leading experts and conservation organizations in all of our projects.

Supporting Fishery Resource Conservation in the Brazilian Amazon: Analysis of the Management and Commercialization of Pirarucu from Protected Areas in Amazonas State

CSF-Brazil is conducting an analysis of the management and commercialization of the pirarucu fish caught in protected areas (PAs) in the state of Amazonas, Brazil.

The pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) is one of the largest freshwater fish and is primarily found in the Amazon basin. It can reach up to three meters long and two hundred kilos. Fish is the main protein source for traditional peoples and communities in this region, and the pirarucu plays a crucial role in food security and income generation in the Amazon. In the last 10 years, to avoid this species' extinction, many sustainable pirarucu management initiatives have been implemented. Currently, more than 20 PAs in the Amazonas state manage their stock and trade pirarucu. As a result, several lakes and rivers have recovered their fishery stocks and the forms of structuring community organization have been strengthened.

However, these communities face strong challenges related to fishery management operations and access to markets that bring greater financial returns, such as the high costs of logistics and the low sales price received by the community. This is caused by lack of access to funding for working capital and investments; markets with limited buyers; sales by the locals being restricted to intermediaries; low access to training about production and activity management, among others.

To find ways to address these challenges, CSF-Brazil, in partnership with the local NGO Operação Amazônia Nativa (OPAN, Native Amazon Operation), is conducting an analysis of pirarucu management and commercialization of initiatives from 23 PAs in Amazonas state, including 10 Indigenous Lands, 6 state Conservation Units (CUs) and 7 federal CUs. These areas correspond to nearly 15 million hectares of Amazonian forest, with the development of the pirarucu fishery management being a fundamental strategy for environmental conservation and preservation of local quality of life.

As part of our study, we will collect data, in a participatory manner with the managing communities, on production, organization forms, infrastructure, marketing, costs and income. The analysis of these will provide a diagnosis of the current situation of the initiatives, regarding the production capacity, profitability, access to markets, dynamics of relationships among actors in the value chain, as well as the main bottlenecks and opportunities. These results will be presented in a report and discussed together with the fishing communities during a workshop, planned for the first half of 2018 in Manaus, Amazonas state. This report will only be delivered to the community, as it will contain confidential data about their businesses. We will also publicly disseminate an infographic with a general overview and aggregate numbers of the current state of pirarucu management activities conducted by these indigenous people and traditional communities.

Thus, we hope to contribute to strategies that strengthen the pirarucu value chain, and, consequently, other products and fish of Amazonas state.

This study is being developed in partnership with OPAN, with the technical support of a group formed by local community organizations, NGOs and government institutions within the scope of the project "Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation in the Amazon: Sustainable Value Chains". This project is part of the partnership established between the Brazilian Government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is executed by the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio, Chico Mendes Institute for the Biodiversity Conservation) and the Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI, National Indigenous Foundation).

Photo: A pirarucu in a fisherman's canoe in the Brazilian Amazon.
Photo credit: Marcos Amend.