Challenges and Opportunities for Co-Management of a Migratory Fish (Prochilodus nigricans) in the Peruvian Amazon
Elizabeth P. Anderson, Mariana Montoya, Aldo Soto, Hernán Flores, and Michael McCain
Abstract.—Fisheries co-management lies at the center of environmental, social, and economic issues in the lower Pastaza River basin in the Peruvian Amazon. In this remote region, the intermingling of black- and white-water systems creates unique aquatic habitats that harbor diverse assemblages of fishes, including Prochilodus nigricans, a migratory species of high ecological and socioeconomic importance throughout the Amazon. In the lower Pastaza basin, freshwater fishes provide a major source of food and income for indigenous communities such as the Kandozi. However, the basin’s aquatic resources and the livelihoods of indigenous people are being compromised by environmentally unsound practices such as overfishing by unregulated commercial fishers and pollution from petroleum exploration and exploitation in the region. In response, there has been a concerted effort by indigenous communities, conservation organizations, and the Peruvian government to develop systems of fisheries co-management in recent years. Near Lake Rimachi, the largest lake in the Peruvian Amazon, an association of Kandozi fishermen was recently formed to oversee the management of the lake’s aquatic resources. The association is working towards implementation of a newly created fisheries management plan, which includes provisions for co-management and protection of migratory species like P. nigricans. Although the challenges are many, the long-term objective of fisheries management around Lake Rimachi is to ensure sustainable livelihoods for indigenous communities while maintaining aquatic biodiversity. Here, we discuss the ecological and socioeconomic importance of P. nigricans and describe lessons learned from an ongoing process of fisheries co-management.