September 11, 2018

Cool Earth in Peru | Fish out of Water


You might think transporting fish up a river would be easy. After all, it’s what they’re born to do. But when the fish are tiny fry, and you’ve got a six hour boat ride in the sweltering heat to navigate, things are a little tricky.

The fry were bought at at a fish farming centre near Satipo and were destined for the six new fish farms that the Asháninka have built with Cool Earth funds. The fry are carp, chosen because they are an easier fish to take care of. Once the fish farms are more established, other native species can be introduced.

The little fish are put into large plastic bags with water. Oxygen is pumped into the bags and they’re tied tight so the water stays oxygenated on the long journey. The bags are put into buckets, and lids put on tightly. Amazon river boats are shallow and not the most stable. And it would be a shame to get this far and lose them.

fish in boat travelling up river in bags

The first stage of the journey for the fish and the team is a two hour car journey to the port with buckets on seats, laps, and the roof of the car. Some sections of the road that wraps round a series of mountain have completely fallen away. At other times the road is blocked by landslide rubble. The views are beautiful, but everyone is glad to reach the river port.

The next stage was just as tense. Six hours on the river in 30 degrees would make even the most well insulated water heat up. As much as the team kept the buckets in the shade they were worried that the baby fish would get too hot and die. When the team arrived at Savorashari village the fish farmers were waiting on the landing stage ready to receive their new fry.

Remarkably every single fish survived its epic journey. Saul, the fish farm technician, explained how to gently and slowly introduce the baby fish to their ponds from the hot buckets, as the change in temperature could shock them.

Fish fry ready to travel by boat

The little fish are now on their way to becoming a source of food as well as a source of income that can be ploughed back into the village.

It’s a strategy that’s worked brilliantly in Cool Earth’s Awajún Partnership. Here, the community’s first priority was to provide a sustainable source of protein for their families. The fish farms are now so productive they are also providing a source of sustainable income, and feeding school children while they’re at it.

“Thanks to the fish farming, I will be able to generate income to support my youngest child of 3 years. As a single mother, I do the impossible to provide my child with the best possible future. Furthermore, fish farming guarantees a source of food for both my child and myself.”

- Flor Dalila Tiwip Kantuach, Huaracayo, Awajún

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