The Darwin Initiative Project

Sustaining livelihoods and protecting biodiversity through development of pez blanco aquaculture

Overview of the Project

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Darwin Initiative

In April 2004, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK Government approved this £174k project under its Darwin Initiative aimed at maintenance of biodiversity and conservation.

Our project [DEFRA No 13/011] extends new aquaculture technology developed by the principal investigators, Dr Carlos A Martínez Palacios and Professor Lindsay G Ross, to small scale stakeholders in communities whose livelihoods have suffered due to rapid decline in the fishery for the high-value but endangered Chirostoma estor estor, pez blanco, and its close relatives.

This fish is the major species in a relict flock of Atherinid fishes unique in a group of central Mexican lakes. The species is a symbol of the area and for centuries has been the basis of an artesanal fishery with a high cash value which sustained large numbers of fisher families from the indigenous P'urhepecha community. The fishery has declined markedly and rapidly due to overexploitation, changes in land use and poor environmental management. Rural communities involved in this activity have a mixed economy [similar to crofting] and collapse of the fishery has reduced their income and a source of high quality protein. Families who previously depended upon this resource have suffered as a result of its decline, and the species itself is now under severe pressure. Some other species in the flock are under similar pressure and the current, unconfirmed, view is that there have probably been extinctions in the last 20 to 30 years.




Darwin Initiative