Environmental Management

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 197-209

First online:

Lessons from Integrating Fishers of Arapaima in Small-Scale Fisheries Management at the Mamirauá Reserve, Amazon

  • Leandro CastelloAffiliated withCollege of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New YorkInstituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá Email author 
  • , João P. VianaAffiliated withInstituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável MamirauáDiretoria do Programa Nacional de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Ministério do Meio Ambiente
  • , Graham WatkinsAffiliated withCharles Darwin Foundation
  • , Miguel Pinedo-VasquezAffiliated withCenter for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University
  • , Valerie A. LuzadisAffiliated withCollege of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Fishers and small-scale fisheries worldwide have been marginalized historically. Now it is clear that integrating fishers in management processes is key to resource conservation, but it is less clear how to do it. Here, based on a literature review and new information, we present and analyze a case in which the participation of fishers in the management process was crucial in recovering an overexploited small-scale fishery for the pirarucu (Arapaima spp.) in the Amazon Basin, Brazil. In 8 years of experimental management, from 1999 to 2006, the population of pirarucu increased 9-fold (from about 2200 to 20,650 individuals), harvest quotas increased 10-fold (from 120 to 1249 individuals), and fishers’ participation in the management process increased and they benefited from increased monetary returns. Additionally, the number of communities conducting the management scheme increased from 4 in 1999 to 108 in 2006, following the demands of fishers and regional government agencies. Based on our analysis, we suggest that the participation of fishers in the management of other small-scale fisheries in the world can be improved by focusing on (1) applying the knowledge and skills of fishers in resource monitoring and management, (2) bridging knowledge systems among all involved stakeholders, (3) collaborating with fishers that are interested in, and capable of conducting, resource conservation schemes, and (4) conducting management under conditions of uncertainty.


Brazil Common property Conservation Developing countries Local knowledge Participatory research and management