Amazon survey investigates fish and communities in region targeted for hydropower development

May 19, 2014 by Denise Oliveira
Amazon survey investigates fish and communities in region targeted for hydropower development
Salto Augusto falls. Credit: Zig Koch

WWF has launched a 12-day survey of Brazil's Juruena River focusing on migratory fish species and how communities near the river use its resources. The Juruena River flows through Juruena National Park, feeds the magnificent Salto Augusto falls, and is part of the wider Amazon basin.

The study will target a fish species known locally as "matrinxã" (Brycon amazonicus). Ayslaner Gallo, one of the project's coordinators, says the bigger specimens of fish will be tagged so they can be tracked by remote monitoring systems.

"With the tracking information in hand, we can come back to the region and find out what happened to these animals, see where they are and how they have developed, and identify other aspects of their behaviour," Gallo says.

To better understand the pressures on the river as well as the services it provides, the research team will interview community members in Aldeia do Pontal, Barra de São Manoel and Colares, and isolated families living along the banks of the Juruena and Teles Pires rivers.

Fishermen will be asked about which fish species they catch most, how often they fish, and how many fishermen are active in the area. The data will be tabulated to obtain a profile of all fishing activities in the vicinity.

"This initial study is designed to build our knowledge of migratory dynamics, and the social and economic aspects of the communities in regard to available resources," says Claudio Maretti, leader of WWF's Living Amazon Initiative.

Amazon survey investigates fish and communities in region targeted for hydropower development
Oncas rapids, Juruena National Park - part of the Southern Amazon (mega) conservation corridor. Credit: Zig Koch

The Juruena River is situated in the larger Tapajos River basin. "The Brazilian government has identified the Tapajos River basin is the next frontier for hydroelectric projects in the Amazon. The construction of a hydroelectric dam completely alters the ecological, social and economic dynamics of a region. So it is of fundamental importance to get to know those aspects beforehand," says Maretti.

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