Environmental Management

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 197–209 | Cite as

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

  • Leandro Castello
  • João P. Viana
  • Graham Watkins
  • Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez
  • Valerie A. Luzadis


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 



We dedicate this study to the memory of Seu Antonio Martins, a leader of Mamirauá fishers who is missed by all who knew him. This study would not have been possible without years of friendship, close collaboration, and uncountable discussions with Mamirauá fishers. We thank J. Gibbs, T. O. C. Castello, C. Franco, D. Stewart, C. Hall, F. Berkes, and T. Buchholz for comments on various versions of this manuscript. Two of the three anonymous reviewers (including Renato Silvano) provided valuable constructive comments. Funding was provided by the Sociedade Civil Mamirauá and the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa (Brazil), the Department for International Development (England), and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Overbrook Foundation (United States).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leandro Castello
    • 1
    • 2
  • João P. Viana
    • 2
    • 3
  • Graham Watkins
    • 4
  • Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez
    • 5
  • Valerie A. Luzadis
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and ForestryState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável MamirauáTeféBrasil
  3. 3.Diretoria do Programa Nacional de Conservação da BiodiversidadeMinistério do Meio AmbienteBrasíliaBrasil
  4. 4.Charles Darwin FoundationSanta CruzEcuador
  5. 5.Center for Environmental Research and ConservationColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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