09 May Indigenous Communities in Bolivia’s Northern Amazon
Several indigenous groups have historically practiced traditional hunting and gathering within the river systems of the Northern Bolivian Amazon, a region of flooding forests, upland tropical forests and savannahs that is home to a high diversity of fish species and are considered of high ecological significance. Fisheries based on abundant and diverse native fish are a cornerstone of local subsistence for most communities and a secondary livelihood for some. Despite the need for income generating opportunities and high, unsatisfied demand for fish in regional markets, few indigenous communities fish commercially on a regular basis. Since 2011, indigenous communities have worked with researchers from the Asociación Faunagua, World Fisheries Trust, and the University of Victoria, to better understand the fisheries situation, and identify pathways to improve livelihood and food security in the region. Much of this work has focused on the paiche, an introduced fish species that could provide indigenous communities with livelihood opportunities, but may also be a threat to their critically-important subsistence fisheries through predation and territorial exclusion.