There are currently no licences which enable persons to practice the catch-and- release of the arapaima, the largest scaled fresh water fish in the world.
Discussions are on-going among the Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, and officials of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Wildlife Department about finalising and getting the regulations adopted on the draft legislation for a catch-and-release sport fishing project in the North Rupununi.
Minister Allicock said, “If we don’t have the rules or the laws to help to protect that fish, there would be no more arapaima.” The fish can grow up to eight feet long, and weigh over 400 pounds.
Protocols and the draft legislation were completed last May for the catch-and-release of the fish in the North Rupununi, a measure aimed at preserving the arapaima.
At a recent meeting in Annai, Minister Allicock recalled that it was once a “free way for taking arapaima and turtles to Brazil for the exchange of salt and tobacco.”
The North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) decided to stop persons from entering the village to catch the arapaima, and at that time they sought help from the then government to aid them in saving the fish.
In 2014, the NRDDB carried out a survey and found the over-exploitation of the arapaima in the North Rupununi led to a 31 percent depletion of stocks over the years 2012-2013.
The first phase of the catch-and-release Arapaima Sport Fishing Project was supported by the private sector investment support programme ‘Compete Caribbean’.
A project summary on the Compete Caribbean’s website states the aim of the project is to improve the capacity and competitiveness of the Rupununi Catch-and- Release cluster-which comprises the Karanambu, Surama and Rewa eco-lodges–and to introduce and market catch-and-release sport fishing as a viable eco-tourism product in Guyana.