A new study has found that a giant Amazon fish is on the verge of extinction due to the overfishing.
According to the researchers who worked on the study, Arapaima (Arapaima gigas) have already extinct in some parts of the Amazon basin and their population is gradually reducing in other portions of the Amazon River.
Arapaima (Arapaima gigas), commonly called Pirarucu, is a unique giant fish that possess ability to breathe in the air as well as under water, thanks to both breathing organs – a primitive lung and a system of gills
The 10 feet long fish, weighting about 400 pounds, regularly floats on the water surface to breathe in maximum oxygen. This has unfortunately made the giant Arapaima fish vulnerable to hunters.
Study co-author Caroline Arantes said, “Arapaima spawns on the edges of floodplain forests and come to the surface to breathe every 5 to 15 minutes. This makes them vulnerable to fishing as they are easily located and harpooned by fishers using homemade canoes.”
Arantes is PhD student in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M University in College Station.
The researchers say five species of arapaima is known so far and interestingly all of them were largely dominated in the Amazon River fisheries. But unfortunately three of the arapaima species have not been traced in the wild for decades.
But even if the population of these unique enormous fishes is declining but there still remains a ray of hope. Researchers say fishing regulations have helped the fish to thrive in the past and they can show effective in the future too. The local communities majorly pose threat to the fish population as they are rampantly used for commercial purposes.
Study leader Leandro Castello said, “Many previously overexploited arapaima populations are now booming due to good management.”
“The time has come to apply fishers’ ecological knowledge to assess populations, document practices and trends, and solve fisheries problems through user participation in management and conservation,” he further said.
Castello is an assistant professor of fisheries at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.
Findings of the study were published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.