Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud on Tuesday issued an arapaima fishing permit to Annai Village to allow Amerindian communities in the area to sustainably harvest the fish by February.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release the permit was given to Toshao of the North Rupununi Village, Michael Williams, which will allow communities within the area to harvest 101 of the large fish by February 15, 2010. The area covered by the permit includes 16 villages and 5,000 residents; therefore each community could get more than $1M each. On presenting the permit to Williams, Persaud noted that with prices for the fish ranging from $600 to $1,000 per pound and with an adult arapaima weighing around 200 pounds, the permit could generate as much as $20-23M which can be invested to address the critical needs of the communities.
GINA said the permit was issued under the Arapaima Management Plan, which was officially launched on April 20, 2007. It was designed with various objectives including increasing the local Arapaima population, improving fishing income and advancing local institutions. The Plan also includes population counts, sharing an annual harvestable quota and has a guiding philosophy to conserve an economically important natural resource. Management rules also specify that arapaimas should not be harvested unless the procedure is conducted within the confines of the Plan, with the two most important rules stipulating that only adults are harvested and that the harvesting is done only during the non-reproductive cycle.
The minister encouraged Williams to let the communities utilize the funds in a manner similar to that which the presidential grants are used. Persaud also said his ministry will look at working with the Brazilian business community at processing the fish to add value and therefore, increase the income that can be obtained from the permit in the future.
In February and March of this year, a population count showed there were 3,062 arapaimas which measured one metre or more of which 1,617 were juveniles and 1,445 adults. The permit will expire before the next arapaima spawning season commences in March 2010. It takes about six years for an arapaima to mature to adulthood.