By Gina Baldivieso
San Pablo de Tiquina, Bolivia, May 18 (EFE).- Bolivia and Peru have launched a laboratory to breed native fish from the Lake Titicaca basin, shared by both countries, which are in danger of extinction, above all due to overfishing.
The lab is at the Tiquina-Bolivia Fish Center in the Bolivian town of San Pablo de Tiquina and is a joint initiative by the Binational Lake Titicaca Authority (ATL), Bolivia’s Public Decentralized Fishing and Aquaculture Institute (IPD PACU) and the Comprehensive Hydric Resources Management project (GIRH-TDPS), which is also binational.
“The dramatic situation of fishing” for native species in Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest large lake, including the carachi, suche and mauri, was the reason for the establishment of the lab to breed these species in danger of extinction, said ALT executive president Juan Jose Ocola.
He said that the volume of fish in the lake has diminished by about 90 percent over the past three decades, meaning that “if before they fished 7,000 tons, now they don’t even get 1,000.”
“This is the consequence of overfishing, of a lack of control and monitoring and this is occurring in Peru and Bolivia,” he warned.
Thus, the lab will be able to produce fish “to populate and repopulate” the Titicaca basin “and contribute to the recovery of the natural populations,” which will guarantee food security and jobs for the thousands of local Bolivian and Peruvian residents who live from fishing, he said.
Meanwhile, IPD PACU director Grover Garcia said that initially the forecast was to produce half a million larvae or fry of the species in question with an eye toward increasing production to one million.
The fish fry will repopulate not only Titicaca but also Peru’s Lake Arapa and Umayo, Bolivia’s Lake Ururu and Poopo, which are all part of the same hydric system, the ALT said.
At the inauguration of the lab, Ocola presented results showing that the main risk to the native species is overfishing and noncompliance with seasonal catch limitations in both Bolivia and Peru.
Added to that are other problems like depredation by non-native species introduced into the habitat, pollution in the in-flowing rivers and some parts of Lake Titicaca, the weakness of control and maintenance programs and the lack of social awareness of the problem.
The lab covers an area of 120 square meters (about 1,300 square feet) and has incubation chambers, live production ponds and assorted tanks in which the fish can grow until they are released into the ecosystem.
Everything must be properly timed to coincide with the fish’s natural reproduction cycle, said Ocola.
The laboratory required an investment of more than $27,200.