L. Cynthia Watson
PhD student, State University of New York
Location: North Rupununi Wetlands, Central Guyana
Research: Ecology and Conservation Status of the Giant Fish Arapaima gigas in the Rupununi Wetlands of Guyana
Species/Topic: Arapima gigas
Abstract: The arapaima (Arapaima gigas) is the largest scaled freshwater fish species in South America occurring only in the Amazon and Essequibo basins. It is also one of the most important commercial freshwater fishes and is now considered to be over-exploited throughout most of its distribution. In Guyana, intense unmanaged exploitation has drastically reduced the stocks to an estimated 500 adult individuals. The main constraint to developing an effective management plan for sustainable harvesting of arapaima is the lack of information on their biology and ecology. This project aims to document both missing aspects to evaluate the current conservation status of the Guyanese arapaima population. These data will allow us to develop an effective management and conservation plan that could prevent possible extirpation of the arapaima from the Essequibo basin and at the same time support local livelihoods through sustainable fisheries.