Globally, invasive species represent one of the greatest threats to native biodiversity. In the Plurinational State of Boliva, this issue has received relatively little attention in the last decade, despite the fact that one of the Aichi targets (target 9), formulated within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), of which Bolivia is a signatory, prioritizing this issue.
FAUNAGUA’s “INVASIVE SPECIES” program contributes to partially fill this gap.
For a long time no invasive fish species were reported in the Bolivian Amazon, but this favorable situation changed with the arrival of the paiche (Arapaima gigas) from Peru.
The paiche was introduced to the south of the Peruvian Amazon and from the upper basin of the Madre de Dios River it invaded the entire Bolivian Amazon. It became a successful species, to such an extent that it partially replaced native species in commercial catches (see for example Navia et al.) .
What strategy do we adopt to control and/or manage this species, which probably impacts native species negatively, but at the same time generates economic benefits?
In a second book published by FAUNAGUA/PPV, some guidelines for action and recommendations are presented, aimed at decision makers. It should be noted here that the Plurinational State of Bolivia, through the Ministry of the Environment and Water, has already set important milestones in regulating the use of the species, through two administrative resolutions. In addition, the new Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture Law (Law No. 938) dedicates three articles to introduced and invasive species.
Two of the allies in controlling the species are the commercial fisherman, who selectively captures the species, and, on the other hand, the consumer, who creates a demand for fish meat. In other words, this strategy consists of ¨Eating the invasive species to avoid the extinction of native species¨ (see an interesting article on this approach).
The commercial value of the species was explored and promoted within the framework of the Fish for Life (PPV) project. On the website www.pecesvida.org you will find progress in this regard. Within the framework of the IAPA project (¨Integration of Amazon Protected Areas¨) , supported by IUCN and WWF, FAUNAGUA faced another challenge: the (urgent) population control of this species within protected areas. The case study is the Manuripi Amazon Wildlife National Reserve, where we support SERNAP in the control of the species, in combination with the integral use of meat and skin, thus adding economic value that benefits people who live within the area. An infographic was prepared that summarizes the most important guidelines of this plan, which can be downloaded here .
Here are the milestones that have marked the advances in the management and control of the paiche:
*In 2017, the National Government enacted the “Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture Law” (Law No. 939). In Article 5 of this law the term “introduced species” is defined.
*In the years 2017, resp. 2018, two specific administrative resolutions are promulgated with the objective of regulating paiche fishing and controlling its expansion.
*In 2017, FAUNAGUA, with the support of Fundación Valle and the Peces para la Vida project (IDRC, Global Affairs), supported the installation of a fish leather tannery (owners: Lincon Zapata).
*In 2019, FAUNAGUA elaborates the first Paiche Control Plan, for the Manuripi NWR, approved by SERNAP Administrative Resolution
*In 2017 and 2019 FAUNAGUA conducts training for fishermen in the Manuripi RNVS, supported by resp. WWF-Bolivia and ACEAA
*In 2017 FAUNAGUA, at the request of INIAF, elaborated a baseline of knowledge about paiche in Bolivia (free access)
*In 2018 FAUNAGUA, within the framework of the Fish for Life project, elaborates a strategy for the control and use of paiche (free access)
*In 2021 FAUNAGUA, at the request of ACEAA, publishes a manual of good practices in the use of paiche (free access)
*In the year 2022 FAUNAGUA, at the request of ACEAA, prepares a calendar (almanac) that aims to promote the consumption of paiche meat in Bolivia
With this program, FAUNAGUA contributes to the Aichi goal.