Arapaima (Arapaima gigas), the largest fish in the Amazon River basin, may soon go missing if stricter rules are not followed, a new study warned.
According to the researchers, these enormous fishes are on the verge of extinction due to the overfishing. They have already extinct in some portions of the Amazon River basin and shockingly their population is gradually decreasing in other parts too.
Arapaima (Arapaima gigas), also known as Pirarucu, possess a unique breathing ability as they are blessed with two organs – a primitive lung and a system of gills- that allows them to breathe in the air as well as under water. These fishes are 10 feet long and weight about 400 pounds.
Due to the lungs, Arapaima comes to the water surface after every 5-15 minutes to breathe in maximum oxygen. Researchers said that this ability has unfortunately made them more vulnerable to the hunters as compared to other fishes.
“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,” said study co-author Caroline Arantes.
Five species of arapaima are known till date and all of them had been once dominated in the Amazon River fisheries. Researchers said three of these species possibly gone missing from Amazon for decades.
Communities living in the nearby areas of Amazon unabatedly hunt these fishes for commercial purposes. Researchers said that the declining population can be checked if fishing regulations are regularized and imposed strictly.
“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,” said study lead author Leandro Castello, assistant professor of fisheries at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.
The study is published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.