The Economic Value of Commercial Fishing in the Bolivian Amazon Basin

A renewable and often competitively priced source of energy, hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin are often considered a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels and seen as a way to meet the region’s growing demand for energy domestically. To date, most of these dams have been built in Brazil, but investments are now being built in neighboring Peru and Bolivia. 

Dams have irreversible effects on both the economy and the environment, the true socio-environmental and cultural costs are rarely considered before being built. These costs include population displacement, disruption of fishing livelihoods, massive hydrophysical and biological disturbances, habitat fragmentation and interference with spawning, reduction of river flows, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, destruction of farmland flooded by reservoirs, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Little is known about the economic impact of hydroelectric projects on the fishing economy in Bolivia. Several studies have cautioned against the potential negative effects of dams on fish, especially migratory fish, which constitute the majority of Bolivian Amazon fisheries. 

In this context, CSF is analyzing commercial fisheries in the Bolivian Amazon and how they could be negatively impacted by hydroelectric projects in the Basin. We will estimate the economic value of commercial fish and the economic benefit that commercial fishing generates to communities. We will also compare commercial fisheries with other economic activities in the region, to establish its relative importance to the economy of local communities. We will then discuss the results and data limitations to provide recommendations for improving the quantity and quality of information for future valuation studies of fish and fisheries in Bolivia. 

This project is funded by World Wildlife Fund


Photo: Sunset on the Madeira River

Photo Credit: Vinicius Bacarin/