Business & Economy

Group helping promote sustainable bio-businesses in Peru’s Amazon region

By Carla Samon Ros

Datem del Marañon province, Peru, Sep 16 (EFE).- Every night without fail Gunter Yandari makes his way by boat along the Pastaza River to Lake Rimachi, deep in the heart of Peru’s Amazon region, and uses a sustainable yet productive method for catching fish.

He tosses a wide-meshed net into the water to enclose the fish in a circular space, shakes it to get them moving and soon has food to take home to his family.

That technique is now being widely used in small-scale fishing by members of the Kandozi indigenous people’s Musa Karusha and San Fernando communities of the Abanico del Pastaza, a giant wetlands complex covering an area of more than 3.8 million hectares (14,670 square miles) of flood-prone forests, swamps, rivers and lakes in Datem del Marañon, a province that is part of the northern Amazon region of Loreto.

“We have a work plan and we’ve made an agreement with the fishing communities not to use small-mesh nets so we don’t eliminate our species. Poisons used to be thrown (into the water), but we’ve now totally prohibited that,” Yandari, who heads an association of artisanal fishermen from Musa Karusha, told Efe.

That pact was promoted by the Fund for the Promotion of Peruvian Natural Protected Areas (Profonanpe), a private environmental fund that helped those communities obtain licenses and permits for their activities and provided local fishermen with training in techniques that improve the productivity of their bio-businesses while also ensuring the conservation of natural resources.

“There was no fishing consciousness before. There were no good practices, and it was all a war. If a mijano (massive migration of Amazon fish) were to pass through here, they would use nets of all sizes, they used dynamite, even in some areas where the water flows slowly they would use (a toxic paste made from the root of the) barbasco (plant),” Manuel Soplin, a Profonanpe biologist, told Efe.

The use of those poisons allowed the communities to catch fish with great ease, but they were unable to sell the product in the marketplace, Miguel Alva, a specialist in natural resources at Profonanpe, added.

By contrast, the use of wide-meshed nets ensures that only the largest fish are caught – those measuring between 20-30 centimeters (eight to 12 inches) in length – and that the different species are able to survive and reproduce.

Above all, those new techniques are helping to halt the progressive Amazon wetland deterioration that stems from unsustainable use, desiccation (drying up of wetlands), pollution and threats from invasive species.

Beyond fishing, Profonanpe also has promoted a bioenterprise centered on the aguaje, a palm tree that grows in the wetlands of tropical South America and whose red-wine-colored fruit with fleshy pulp is used in ice creams, desserts, cocktails and even the cosmetic industry.

Among other things, that private environmental fund provided training in a new harness-based method for scaling the palms and accessing the fruit that obviates the need to fell the trees and is faster, safer and more productive.

That biobusiness also help preserve a species that stores more than 600 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare and plays a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. EFE


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