Fishing monitoring

Given the need to take measures to prevent the observed decline of some fish species, in 2001 Tacana communities of the Beni river decided, with WCS support, to start a fishing registration system for each fisherman using forms to obtain information to subsequently guide fishing management.

Between 2004 and 2006, technical follow-up to monitoring activities was conducted by the National Museum of Natural History. Throughout the project of the Museum, harvest centers established by communities were equipped with freezers and boats. In 2006 WCS resumed the technical role in the monitoring efforts, defining with Tacana fishermen a new approach under the coordination of the Tacana Fishermen Association “Banacuashe” and the “Animalucuana” Association of the Tacana Indigenous Territory.

Tacana fishermen from the San Miguel, Cachichira, San Antonio del Tequeje, Altamarani, Carmen del Emero and Esperanza de Enapurera communities developed fishing self-monitoring activities through the registration of fishing information. A database with 8,439 fishing records contains information on the biology and ecology of more than 40 species of fish, the number of individuals harvested, the fishing methods and effort, the biomass obtained and the economic benefits for the communities.

Communities harvest about 50 fish species, although the taxonomic status is known for only 42 of them. Between 2001 and 2007 19,138 individuals were reported. The species with most individuals captured were the granulated catfish (Pterodoras granulosus), the sorubim catfish (Pseudoplatystoma spp.), the pacu (Piaractus brachypomus), the sábalo (Prochilodus nigricans) and the gilded catfish (Zungaro zungaro). The largest fish are the most consumed and commercialized.

About 85% of the fished biomass is composed of 10 species, principally catfish: gilded catfish (Zungaro zungaro), sorubim catfish (Pseudoplatystoma spp.), granulated catfish (Pterodoras granulosus), pacu (Piaractus brachypomus), dorado catfish (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii), firewood catfish (Sorubimichthys planiceps), redtail catfish (Phractocephalus hemiliopterus), sábalo (Prochilodus nigricans), tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum), achara catfish (Leiarius marmoratus) and the payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides).

It is estimated that between 2001 and 2007, participating fishermen harvested 42.5 tonnes. Most of this production (65%) was commercialized in the Rurrenabaque area, and a smaller amount (35%) was destined to family consumption. The economic importance of fishing was calculated based on fishing records and the current prices per kilogram of fish in the Rurrenabaque area (Bs.18 or $2.5.), and represented an average monthly income of about $72 per family.

As with subsistence hunting management, we are working in the incorporation of self-monitoring of fishing activities in the curricula of schools in the communities, with the participation of teachers and students. It is expected that students along with their families will be able to analyze population fluctuations of each fished species, and that this information will be considered by the communities in the management decisions.