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Sustainable Fishing

WWF Brazil

Project official website
Total project value
R$ 3,205,943.00
Total support amount
US$ 1,362,028.63
organization type
Third Sector
Indigenous people
Sustainable production



To promote adoption of management measures associated with entering into fishing agreements to reduce damage to water ecosystems and create an economically sustainable alternative to deforestation in the state of Acre


Artisanal fishermen and riverside and indigenous communities of the state of Acre

Territorial scope

Municipalities of Feijó, Tarauacá and Manoel Urbano, state of Acre



Fishing has been one of the most traditional and important extractive activities in the Amazon, representing an important source of food for local communities. However, in recent decades, as a result of the expansion of fishing and the inadequate use of rivers and lowland lakes, the first signs of depletion of stocks of some species have appeared, in addition to conflicts related to access and ownership of fishing areas.

Within this context, fishing agreements have been drawn up, beginning with community mobilization and the interaction among the various users of fishing resources in the manageable area. The aim is to define proposals for using the lakes, followed by deliberation at a local community body and the submission of the agreement to the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) or, eventually, when it is a specific agreement, to the state environmental agency. This body, in turn, sends the proposal to be regulated through an inter-ministerial decision, involving the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) and the Secretariat for Aquaculture and Fisheries, linked to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services. The Government supervision and protection of lakes are key elements for the success of the community management system and fishing agreements.

The initial scope of the project encompassed three contiguous municipalities in the state of Acre: Manoel Urbano, Feijó and Tarauacá. During the execution of the project, however, the community of Manoel Urbano decided to stop participating in the initiative. In order to make up for it, the Sustainable Fishing project started involving the indigenous communities Kaxinawá (Huni Kuin) of the New Olinda indigenous land (TI), in the municipality of Feijó, that had already shown interest in participating in the activities programmed. It is also worth mentioning that the project target population already had another indigenous community since the conception of the proposal, the Kaxinawá community of Praia do Carapanã TI, in the municipality of Tarauacá.


The project aimed to promote the adoption of management measures associated with entering into fishing agreements to reduce the damage to water ecosystems and create an economically sustainable alternative to deforestation in the state of Acre. It focused on the management of the species Arapaima gigas, known in Brazil as pirarucu. Pirarucu is one of the largest freshwater fish worldwide, reaching up to three meters long and weighing more than two hundred kilos, and has a high commercial value. It is a species threatened with extinction.

Within the scope of the project, related actions were planned and executed: (i) development and consolidation of the participatory pirarucu management system in the municipalities of Manoel Urbano¹, Feijó and Tarauacá, by consolidating, expanding and regulating fishing agreements in these municipalities; (ii) development of principles and criteria for the certification of managed pirarucu fishing; (iii) development of an analysis on the ecological and economic viability and the potential for expansion of the pirarucu management practices and production chain, in order to guide the design of actions necessary to expand management practices and strengthen the pirarucu production chain; and (iv) dissemination of project results in order to stimulate replication of good practices and lessons learned on the pirarucu sustainable use.

¹Although the communities in the municipality of Manoel Urbano have chosen to leave the project before the expected increase in the number of local fishing agreements and the achievement of other results, several actions carried out in the project attended the public targeted in that municipality. Such actions were important for the community’s awareness and thus for the maintenance of the three existing agreements regulated since 2006. 


The project is part of the “sustainable production” component (1) of the Amazon Fund’s Logical Framework. The effects expected in this component were the pirarucu management implemented and the pirarucu production chain managed with value-added expansion.

Thus, the project aimed to contribute to the activities that keep the standing forest economically attractive in the municipalities benefiting from the project actions, promoting the productive inclusion of riverside and indigenous communities and stimulating productive models that preserve the forest.



Date of approval 12.30.2013
Date of the contract 04.17.2014
Date of conclusion 12.31.2017
Disbursement period 44 months (from the date the contract was signed)


date amount
1º disbursements 06.18.2014 R$775,932.21
2º disbursements 03.27.2015 R$1,106,945.00
3º disbursements 05.27.2016 R$1,323,065.79
Total amount disbursed R$3,205,943.00

Total amount disbursed in relation to the Amazon Fund’s support



The project supported the elaboration of 19 fishing agreements that were approved collectively and submitted to the competent environmental agency, and several participatory events happened. In addition, it supported the implementation of the internal regulations of the Pirarucu Management Group of Feijó, the elaboration and implementation of the Huni Kuin Fishing Regiment of the Praia de Carapanã TI, and the formation of the Indigenous Pirarucu Management Group of the Nova Olinda TI.

A study on ecological-economic evaluation and the potential of expansion of pirarucu management practices was performed.

There was also the acquirement of goods and equipment, the training and other several activities for pirarucu management (fishermen re-registration, licensing of fishing quotas, expeditions of counting, cleaning, fishing, monitoring, processing and trade) and for the implementation of certification criteria of this management. The Fishing Improvement Plan, developed for certification purposes, was inserted into a global database of fishing systems in the process of certification¹.

Activities were carried out for the institutional strengthening of the Aspakno and Askapa indigenous organizations and the Colony of Fishermen and Aquaculture Farmers of Feijó (Colpaf), in addition to disclosing project activities and results, with the dissemination of knowledge on the pirarucu management in order to stimulate replication of the initiative.

¹Available at:

Final Evaluation


Promoting and adopting management measures, associated with entering into fishing agreements in order to reduce the damage to water ecosystems and assure an economically sustainable alternative to deforestation, depend on the success of the integrated action of public agencies of the various spheres of government, on the mobilization of civil society, and on the private sector’s interest. Thus, WWF-Brasil conducted the implementation of the Sustainable Fishing project through an inter-institutional arrangement with actors such as: (i) the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the National Indian Foundation (Funai), representing the Federal Government; (ii) the Acre Environment Institute (Imac), the Secretariat of Agroforestry Extension and Family Production (Seaprof) and the Environmental Military Police Battalion (PM Ambiental/Acre) as representatives of the Government of Acre; (iii) the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the University of São Paulo (USP), Federal University of Acre (Ufac) and the Federal Center for Technological Education of Minas Gerais, representing technology centers; and (iv) the Colpaf association and Kaxinawá (Huni Kuin) people's organizations, representing civil society. In the scope of the project, conversations were also held with representatives of the private sector in order to elaborate a diagnosis of the pirarucu chain.

The project also counted on a WWF’s team, responsible for the executive and operational coordination of all actions developed, so that the administrative arrangement provided the execution of interdependent actions executed with the partner institutions in an articulated and integrated way.


The project activities contributed to the results related to the "sustainable production" component (1) of the Amazon Fund’s Logical Framework.

Sustainable Production Component (1)

Outcome 1.1: Pirarucu management implemented.

Outcome 1.2: Pirarucu production chain managed with value-added expansion.

The main indicators agreed to monitor these effects were:

  • Number of fishing agreements approved collectively and submitted to the competent body (effectiveness indicator):

Target: 15. Result achieved: 19 agreements 

Of the 19 fishing agreements approved collectively and submitted to the competent body, seven have been regulated. WWF-Brasil reported to have kept working on the mobilization fronts of TIs’ indigenous leaders and FUNAI’s managers to jointly reinforce the negotiations with Ibama for regulation of other agreements submitted to the body in 2016.

  • Number of individuals directly benefited by the activities supported by the project (effectiveness indicator)

Target: 920 individuals. Result achieved: 1,627 individuals

The project activities directly benefited 1,627 individuals, including riverside and indigenous people.

  • Number of community organizations strengthened (effectiveness indicator)

Target: three organizations. Result achieved: three organizations

The project supported the strengthening of the following: Colpaf association; Aspakno, indigenous organization representing the Kaxinawá people of the Nova Olinda TI; and Askapa, an indigenous organization representing ten Kaxinawá villages of the Carapanã TI.

  • Revenue obtained from the economic activity of sustainable use supported by the project (effectiveness indicator)

Target: 30% increase in revenues obtained from commercialization of the pirarucu managed with sustainability

Result achieved: reduction of 7.6% of the total revenue obtained with the commercialization of the pirarucu managed with sustainability

Of the 19 pirarucu sustainable management agreements elaborated, seven have been regulated for the municipality of Feijó. Thus, regarding the revenue indicator, only the fishing and trading data collected within the scope of the seven agreements already regulated in this municipality, between 2014 and 2016, have been computed.

This contraction in sales was due to the absolute reduction in the volume of pirarucu caught, as a result of the implementation of fishing agreements aimed to protect water ecosystems. This decrease occurred because fishing quotas authorized by the environmental agency were smaller, exactly to avoid fishing to become a predatory short-term activity, but rather a long-term sustainable activity.

In the definition of fishing quotas for monitored lakes, the environmental agency takes into account the population data of the species, from periodic counts. In the Sustainable Fishing project, the measurement of the indicator considered the period from 2014 to 2016, since that in 2017 there was no authorized fishing.

However, it is worth noting that there was a 24% increase in the average income of each fisherman involved in fishing, which increased from R$ 650.00/year in 2013 to R$ 802.87/year in 2016, due to the greater fishing productivity.

  • Number of lakes under management with certification criteria implanted (product indicator)

Target: ten lakes. Result achieved: ten lakes

One of the project outcomes expected was the development of a standard for managed pirarucu certification, which has been achieved. With the endorsement and technical support of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international certifier of marine fishing activity, a Fishing Improvement Program (FIP) was developed within the scope of the project, with actions to comply with 27 certification requirements for achievement of the MSC seal to the pirarucu sustainable management. The project advanced in the implementation of 24 of these requirements in the management practiced in ten lakes, which allowed the resolution of several relevant issues.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that a study on ecological and economic viability and the potential for expansion of pirarucu management practices and production chain have been developed in order to guide the design of actions necessary for the expansion of pirarucu management practices and the strengthening of its production chain.


In general terms, it can be said that the Sustainable Fishing project was properly developed, reaching the objective of adopting management measures and entering into fishing agreements to reduce the damage to water ecosystems in the state of Acre. However, in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the project and for chain consolidation, adopting public policies, legislation and regulations that value and encourage the activity is fundamental. For example, payment for the environmental services offered, legal certainty regarding the maintenance of unemployment insurance for artisanal fishermen ("closed season insurance") and the performance of educational and inspection actions by government bodies would make the activity more attractive to the traditional populations, reducing the resistance of many fishermen. However, the State's actions regarding these issues have proved to be insufficient due to the discontinuity of governments and to budgetary constraints.

Another issue that hinders the dissemination of pirarucu sustainable management and discourages many actors is the fact that the first years of the chain consolidation process involved costs for carrying out core activities and investments in infrastructure that were much higher than the total revenue generated. Incremental actions that would add value to the chain's products, such as obtaining sanitary inspection and certification seals, adopting technical innovations and developing byproducts, also require a high investment of money and time.

In addition, due to the pirarucu characteristics, a fairly long interval is required to replenish stocks in order to achieve higher fishing levels with the competent environmental agencies, which could provide more attractive financial returns.

It is worth mentioning that the change in the center of operation management of the project from Brasilia to Rio Branco (AC) brought the project coordination closer to the central activities, since it began to participate physically in a greater number of sensitive actions. Therefore, the link between the entity and the actors involved was improved, facilitating the communication and dialogue within the project, which, in turn, enabled a more incisive action in the management of conflicts and, thus, greater speed in the decisions and execution of activities.

It should be emphasized that the knowledge generated referring to the theme, systematized and shared through the project, can greatly help the definition and implementation of new initiatives aimed to adopt management measures and to enter into fishing agreements.


The sustainability of the results obtained depends on the maintenance of the riverside and indigenous populations’ awareness and mobilization regarding the pirarucu sustainable production theme, and on the continuity of local community’s and institutions’ efforts, including government agencies. It is central to the effectiveness of initiatives such as the Sustainable Fishing project to keep alive the interest in preserving water ecosystems under fishing agreements in the population that has fishing in the Amazon a means of survival and which is constantly in competition with predatory fishing.

Maintaining the target communities’ adherence to new fishing agreements is as important as the adoption of such agreements. As already mentioned, incisive governmental actions are paramount for this purpose.



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