In Search of a New Approach to Fisheries Management in the Middle Amazon Region

In Search of a New Approach to Fisheries Management in the Middle Amazon Region

V.J. Isaac, M.L. Ruffino, and D. McGrath

In Search of a New Approach to Fisheries Management in the Middle Amazon RegionThis is part of Fishery Stock Assessment Models
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Due to the complexity of Amazonian fisheries, the application of conventional models of stock assessment and, especially, of fisheries management do not work for Amazonian fisheries. Available information shows that regional artisanal fisheries, in addition to multispecific, are highly varied in their technology, geographically diffuse, and practiced with varying economic objectives. Two fisheries can be distinguished in the Middle Amazon. The first is more professionalized and highly seasonal in character, concentrates primarily on migratory catfish and operates primarily in the main river channels. The second fishery is more diffuse, focusing on smaller species in floodplain lakes, adapting gear, location and target species to the ecological characteristics of the stock. Classical assessment models indicate some stocks my be overfished, such as Colossoma macropomum. Nevertheless, implementation of efficient regulatory measures is almost impossible. Although there are measures regulating fisheries, these regulations are not obeyed. As a result of the inability of the government to regulate the fishery, conflicts and litigation have proliferated over the right of access to local floodplain lake fisheries. In response to these actions, government institutions are changing their approach and their fisheries management policies. This is evident in increased government support for research projects and is leading to changes in fisheries legislation. Recently, a more decentralized approach to fisheries management has begun to take hold in government policy. In addition, social scientists have complained of the lack of attention to social dimensions of the fishery, questioning the validity of the bioeconomic paradigm for fisheries management. As a result of these questions, the participation of communities of fishers in discussions of regulatory measures is becoming the norm. Despite these changes, however, a mathematical model which takes into account the ecological, cultural, and social characteristics of the region has not yet been developed. On the other hand, the search for solutions cannot wait for the accumulation of data sets covering time periods long enough to permit more sophisticated approaches. Practical needs are imposing a system of resource evaluation which combines theoretical and empirical, conventional and alternative methods, and the development of multidisciplinary approaches, for the adoption of management measures.

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