Target: Izabella Teixeira, Minister of the Environment in Brazil
Goal: Crack down on the illegal trade of rare fish native to Amazon river ecosystem
For many of us, a seven foot long, four hundred pound fish may seem like just an entertaining oddity, but for many local fisherman in the Amazon River basin, such a fish is essential to feeding one’s family and sustaining one’s livelihood. The fish known as the pirarucu has been a staple food source for local peoples since before the arrival of European explorers. Its large size actually makes fishing for the pirarucu dangerous, as the fish can topple fishermen into waters filled with caiman and piranhas. Nevertheless, many fishermen still rely on the traditional methods of fishing, venturing out river using simple canoes, harpoons, and a great deal of patience. Unfortunately, in spite of successful conservation efforts, the pirarucu continues to face threats in the form of overfishing and habitat degradation. The persistent demand for the fish in the nearby state of Pará makes illicit fishing a serious issue still.
The success of local conservation efforts is important to acknowledge. What has made management of pirarucu populations so successful, according to a recent article in the New York Times, is the strong community-basis of such efforts, providing a foundation for collaboration among authorities, conservation scientists, and residents of villages all along the Amazon River. Since the authorities’ 1996 restriction of pirarucu fishing in the state of Amazona only to local peoples, many other regulations have been imposed by the communities themselves. Some examples include restrictions on size of the catch and the prohibition of curtain-like gill nets. Nevertheless, further actions are necessary in order for pirarucu populations to continue to thrive and for these positive changes to be sustained.
By signing the petition below, you can urge the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment to invest in educating local communities on the importance of conserving this rare fish. Please express your support for this important step in continuing the tradition of community-based conservation in the Amazon.
Dear Minister Teixeira,
I am writing to you out of concern for the persistent illegal trade in the rare fish found in the Amazon river ecosystems known as the pirarucu. Akin to other freshwater megafish such as the Giant Pangasius and the Mekong giant catfish found in the Mekong River basin, the pirarucu continues to face threats in the form of overfishing and habitat degradation. In spite of thriving conservation efforts, led in large part by local fisherman and scientists, illicit fishing remains a serious issue, spurred by the demand for the fish in the local state of Pará.
Leadership from your administration is essential to protecting the livelihoods of many local fishermen and the freshwater ecosystem more broadly. I encourage you to invest in expanding education of local communities on the importance of conserving this rare fish and to build on the commendable efforts happening on the ground to make pirarucu fishing more sustainable.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Amelia Guo via Wikimedia Commons