Fisheries: a livelihood in indigenous communities


Fisheries: a livelihood in indigenous communities

A field survey of 4 Indigenous Territories (TCOs) in Bolivia’s northern Amazon show that commercial and subsistence Fisheries for Arapaima (paiche) and native fish species offer opportunities for communities and indigenous families but that these are differentially accessible and important.
During the months of October and November 2015, a team of researchers from FAUNAGUA and the University of Victoria, in alliance with the Indigenous Centre of the Amazon region of Bolivia (CIRABO) and the Unique Federation of Fishers, Vendors, Fish Farmers, of the Northern Amazon (FEUPECOPINAB), traveled to 25 communities in the four TCOs of Chácobo Pacahuara, Cavineño, Tacana-Cavineño and Multiethnic II, to better understand their communities and the productive activities undertaken by their families (activities that produce a valued goods or service). Ten workshops were carried out (152 men and 100 women participated) and 127 individual interviews on fisheries were completed. This work identified 436 fishers (414 of them considered subsistence fishers, and 73 commercial fishers)
The TCO TIM II is the most active user of its fishery resource, followed successively by the TCOs Tacana-Cavineño, Cavineño and Chácobo-Pacahuara. Communities with highest annual fish production (commercial and subsistence) are Flor de Octubre, Lago El Carmen, 27 de Mayo and Santuario (TCO TIM II) while the communities with lowest annual production include Siete Almendros, Tres Bocas, San Joseph and Alto Ivon (TCO Chácobo-Pacahuara). Of the 127 respondents, 42 fish paiche commercially. The TCO TIM II has the largest annual production of paiche, followed by the Tacana-Cavineño and Cavineño TCOs, while the TCO Chácobo-Pacahuara do not sell fish nor sell paiche.
Indigenous fishers identified the main problems that limit engagement in the fishing activity as weak organization, lack of knowledge about internal regulations, the low price of fish, lack of indigenous fish markets and poor road infrastructure. Nevertheless, paiche presents a potential for commercial fishing, while native fish are key for domestic consumption. Paiche is an introduced fish species that has shown up in the region relatively recently after accidental release into the Peruvian headwaters of the Rio Madre de Dios 50 years ago.
Contacts: Fernando Carvajal, FAUNAGUA, fernando.carvajal@faunagua.org; Alison Macnaughton, UVIC, alimacna@gmail.com

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