In “Can we really eat invasive species into submission?,” Michael Snyder discusses the apparent, but not yet data-supported, impact of the paiche fish on the Bolivian Amazon. Many local fishermen believe the decline and, in some cases, disappearance of other types of fish native to the area is correlated with the paiche’s proliferation in the area. Considering the paiche to be an invasive species, the locals involved in fish trade conflict in their ideas about how to deal with the ecological damage that their introduction to the environment has caused and could continue to cause.
This piece elaborates extensively the options at hand for regulating the paiche in the Bolivian Amazon, but the options they present lack much supportive data and often result in consequences that arguably outweigh the potential benefits. Overfishing is proposed, and while it seems to be a way to decrease the population of the fish from the environment there quickly, local fish traders like Eric Salazar do not think this option will remove the fish completely and also, demand may not match the amount of fish supplied in the market if the number of fish gathered increases. Additionally, they present the concept of “gastronomy” as a solution, posing that the paiche supply could be utilized as food for hungry populations or to be served as cultural “delicacies (Snyder).” This fails to recognize that while this may deplete the supply of paiche in the area in the short term, it may conversely increase demand for the fish and encourage preservation of the species there. Lastly, they present a solution that is relatively better supported by data than the previously enumerated ones were, which is to harvest the fish. They address that while a population of a fish species is small and has recently arrived in the new environment, this process can be successful at addressing the species’ damage. However, an impressive amount of money may be necessary from the government to implement this process. With the evidence of this process’s success exists evidence of this process’s failure, so if it fails to regulate the species, not only is the invasive species still causing damage, but the investment may not result in a return.
While specifically focusing on the difference in opinion in addressing the paiche as an invasive species in the Bolivian Amazon, this article reflects well a larger debate at hand in dealing with all invasive species around the world. Arriving at the best solution to addressing any invasive species is complicated, depending on the weight of each of the solution’s costs and benefits, the environment the species has invaded, the degree of its damage, the market and economy the damage impacts, and much more.
Snyder, Michael. “Can we really eat invasive species into submission?” SALON, Salon Media Group, Inc., 21 May 2017, www.salon.com/2017/05/21/can-we-really-eat-invasive-species-into-submission_partner/.