Community empowerment for territorial and habitat protection

Instituto Juruá works with local organizations to design a zoning strategy for fisheries and hunting in floodplain lakes and forests, ensuring the existence of no-take, subsistence, and open-access areas. We then support local communities in the effective protection of their lakes, and the subsequent management of local natural resources. Protected lakes, for example, have seen dramatic increases in abundance of many important fish species, including the commercially valuable pirarucu (Arapaima gigas).

Following careful monitoring, a sustainable annual harvest of pirarucu can provide substantial financial support to remote communities that normally have few sources of income, which provides a potential win-win situation for conservation and development. Instituto Juruá also works closely with local partners for the protection and monitoring of nesting grounds for freshwater turtles (Podocnemis spp.) on fluvial beaches along the Juruá River. As for protected lakes, we support the training of local residents to conduct population monitoring and beach protection. In both cases, we work to improve conflict resolution between neighbouring communities and outsider professional fishers.

As a result of this strategy, local communities have increased their food security and sovereignty, income generation, infrastructure, and capacity-building opportunities.

Women’s empowerment through sustainable fisheries

The Amazon has a long history of gender inequality. In this scenario, women are not always encouraged to participate in local meetings and decision making, and often do not receive income for their participation in economic activities.

However, the community-based management of pirarucu is contributing to change this paradigm, by providing income directly to fisherwomen, and opportunities for training and participation in fisheries decision making. Pirarucu management has been the only source of fishing income for many women, even though they often participate in other commercial fisheries.

In the middle Juruá River, the mean probability of women earning income from fisheries is 77% in communities with pirarucu management, whereas this number drops to 8% in communities without pirarucu management (Freitas et al. 2020). For this reason, we have created the fisherwomen’s empowerment program, seeking to boost pirarucu management outside protected areas andfurther increase the participation of women in income distribution and decision making processes.