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In coordination with the Central of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIRABO), the Fish for Life II Project carried out a participatory evaluation of the abundance and distribution of the paiche in rivers and lagoons of four indigenous territories (TCOs) of the department of Beni.

In coordination with the Central of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIRABO), the Fish for Life II Project carried out a participatory evaluation of the abundance and distribution of the paiche in rivers and lagoons of four indigenous territories (TCOs) of the department of Beni.

Between 21 individuals per hectare (in the Chácobo-Pacahura TCO) and three individuals per hectare (in the TIM II TCO), paiche abundance can vary greatly. In order to better know and understand the distribution of the species in different aquatic systems and its potential for use, the first paiche counts were carried out with the participation of fishermen/indigenous people. For this purpose, methods developed to count paiche and bufeo when they come to breathe at the surface of the water were used. In addition, an ecological characterization of the bodies of water where the paiches live was carried out.

Two indigenous fishermen experienced in paiche fishing and a research technician participated in the team. For 47 days, 35 lagoons and five rivers in 16 communities were visited and had the support of 19 indigenous fishermen.

It can be preliminarily concluded that the abundance of paiche in the TCOs studied depends on factors such as the size of the aquatic systems and fishing pressure. These factors, among others, affect the economy of fishermen who could improve their quality of life, through a plan for the use of paiche on equitable terms with the markets and a national program for use in indigenous territories.

The participatory paiche count was co-financed by the “National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Innovation” (INIAF), dependent on the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, through the project “Technical Bases for the Sustainable Use of Paiche (*Arapaima gigas*)”.

Contacts:
Fernando Carvajal, FAUNAGUA, fernando.carvajal@faunagua.org
Sergio Villafán Coca, FAUNAGUA, sergiovillafancoca@gmail.com

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