Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, shared between the countries of Bolivia and Peru. In recent years population growth and the pressure from several anthropogenic activities have increased degradation of the lake's environment. There has been international concern about the restoration and maintenance of this valuable ecosystem and the preservation of the natural services the lake provides to the human populations that depend on it. Several initiatives and projects have been carried out to solve the problems that the lake faces.
In this article, the Peruvian aquaculture and fisheries governmental policy in Lake Titicaca for the period 2007–2011 will be assessed. The policy aims to promote the sustainability and competitiveness of Lake Titicaca fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Financial and technically supported by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, this policy is implemented in association with a complex network of local, regional and national governmental, social, scientific and economic stakeholders. The article describes and analyzes the different components, projects and results of this national policy at the light of the ecosystem based management paradigm.
This national policy has contributed towards an ecosystem management of Lake Titicaca, solving human needs through fisheries and aquaculture activities while giving great importance to ecological integrity and promoting the cooperation among different governmental levels and research institutes. The continuity of the activities and projects supported by this policy might be at risk in the short term due to the dependency on international financing, the changes in the political administration at a national, regional and local level, as well as the instability and high human resource turnover in several partner institutions. A transversal aspect still pending in Lake Titicaca ecosystem management has to do with being a developing country/region which is still structuring new government policies for conservation and restoration.
Lake Titicaca is a large (8,400 km2), high altitude (3,810 m above sea level) lake on the border between the Peruvian Department of Puno and the Bolivian Department of La Paz. It is the highest of the world's large lakes. With an average volume of 930 km3, Lake Titicaca is the main water body in the Titicaca Desaguadero Poopó copaisa Salt Lake (TDPS) system, which comprises 4 sub-basins (ILEC, 2006). Throughout the centuries the lake's health has been threatened by several human activities carried out around it. These threats are exacerbated by the poverty level the riparian communities of both neighboring countries suffer. Some of the anthropogenic pressures on the lake are: the formal and informal mining activities at the higher parts of the basin; land use change in the riparian areas; growth of the touristic industry and the main urban settlements in the basin (Juliaca and Puno in the Peruvian side and El Alto and La Paz in the Bolivian side), most of which directly discharge their effluents into the lake; as well as the direct introduction of foreign fish species (in 1939 the government released Rainbow Trout and in 1957 introduced the Argentinean Silverside) and its further culture (in 2010 trout production in Puno reached 10,334 MT). Moreover there is a lack of continuous scientific and systematic information on biotic and abiotic parameters of the Lake and although there is a binational authority (Autoridad Binacional Lago Titicaca-ALT), its master plan has ambiguous management objectives adding to frequent changes of policy makers in both countries (Rieckermann et al., 2006). These factors contribute to the absence of multidisciplinary interventions from both national governments.
Considering that the department of Puno (Peru) suffers from undeveloped (2007 Human Development Index was 0.561), that fisheries are key to local food security and that aquaculture is a very promising opportunity to regional growth, in 2007 the Peruvian Ministry of Production, with technical and financial support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo), designed and started the implementation of a new broad regional policy called PROPESCA (2007–2011). For the first time after a long period of centralized policies an inclusive strategy in the department of Puno and the Peruvian territory of Lake Titicaca was carried out. This policy, with a strong environmental emphasis, concentrated and organized the diversity of fisheries and aquaculture public interventions carried out throughout the lake.
The goals of PROPESCA were defined by the Ministry of Production in collaboration with AECID. The objective of PROPESCA is to promote the sustainability and competitiveness of Lake Titicaca's fisheries and aquaculture sectors. To implement this policy several partnerships with a complex network of local/ regional/ central governmental, social, scientific and economic stakeholders (Figure 1) was established.
Despite being a policy conceived from a productive perspective, ecosystem management was considered a transversal objective of this national policy. The article will describe how the Peruvian fisheries and aquaculture policy in Lake Titicaca was implemented and if this policy moves towards an ecosystem management approach.
Ecosystem management challenges public policies that consider development as the exploitation, pollution or destruction of natural resources without taking into account future generations. Several conceptions and meanings on ecosystem management exist. The definition proposed by Grumbine (1994), in which ecosystem management “integrates scientific knowledge of ecological relationships within a complex sociopolitical and values framework towards the general goal of protecting native ecosystem integrity over the long term” will be used. This approach is understood as a continuum process moving from an anthropocentric view, which main objective is to maximize the yield of a single resource, to an ecocentric view where the main goal is to restore and maintain the ecosystem functions while allowing human use on a sustainable basis (Yaffee, 1999). The challenge is to move towards this ecological view through the design of operative strategies that may implement this approach. Framed under the conservation and restoration paradigm, ecosystem management integrates human activities to long-term sustainability while considering the political, economic and social values (Pavlikakis and Tsihrintzis, 2000).
To assess the governmental policy PROPESCA (2007–2011) at the light of Ecosystem Management, the ten dominant themes proposed by Grumbine (1994, 1997): (1) hierarchical context; (2) ecological boundaries; (3) ecological integrity; (4) data collection; (5) monitoring; (6) adaptive management; (7) interagency cooperation; (8) organizational change; (9) humans embedded in nature and (10) values, will be used. These themes have become the core guidelines for several ecosystem management initiatives throughout the world, for example for Ecosystem Management in Florida (established since 1993) or Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity project (Nkotagu, 2008). These 10 themes have been useful tool to evaluate if a program follows an ecosystem management approach (Pavlikakis and Tsihrintzis, 2000).
Results and Discussion
To implement PROPESCA's policy, cooperation agreements to develop specific projects and activities were signed with five national governmental partners, seven regional governmental institutions and five international scientific institutions. PROPESCA funded the projects with a total 2.5 million Euros. The extent to which each project contributes to one of the ten ecological management themes is included in Table 1.
The Hierarchical Context or ecosystem perspective as well as the Ecological Boundaries were accomplished by PRODUCE and AECID in PROPESCA's strategic planning. Throughout the implementation of this national policy, quarterly inter-agency meetings between the different stakeholders have been convened by PRODUCE/AECID, helping define the administrative and political boundaries of each stakeholders and serving as a platform to discuss the lake's problematic and the role of each institution in it.
Several projects had an impact on the Ecological integrity of Lake Titicaca. To increase ecological understanding of the lake's fisheries resources and its population dynamics, PROPESCA funded, in the last three years, Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE)'s semestral research campaigns to assess the status of several fish species. Odontesthes bonariensis (Argentinian Silverside), Orestias luteus (native Cyprinid) and Trichomycterus dispar (indigenous Benthic Catfish) fisheries are considered fully exploited while the native pelagic fish Orestias ispi is currently under-exploited, with an estimated biomass of 49,960 MT (IMARPE, 2009; IMARPE, 2010). After several years without scientific information on catchment, IMARPE's original results were the basis for designing the latest legislation published for the lake's fisheries, including the minimum fish size and mesh size (Resolución Ministerial-271-2010-PRODUCE), the wild Trout ban (RM 152-2010-PRODUCE) and the Silverside's reproductive ban (RM 209-2010-PRODUCE). The use of mesh sizes and the capture of fish specimens under 1 7/8” mesh (12.0 cm long) for Orestias luteus, 1 1/2” (12.0 cm) for Orestias agassii, 3/5” (6.3 cm) for Orestias ispi and 1 3/4” (22.5 cm) for Odontesthes bonariensis have been banned. One of IMARPE's scientists (J.Brousset, IMARPE, Lima, Perú, pers. comm.) highlighted the low annual fish capture in the lake, less than 1,000 MT were caught in 2009, the lowest figure in 28 years. IMARPE's research showed that the percentage of juvenile fish caught under the minimum fish size grew from 45% in 2008 to 63% in 2009, indicating that the stocks are younger every year. Another relevant project in this field, deepening the knowledge on the native species biology, is the pilot program to culture native species in captivity developed by Lake Titicaca's Special Project (PELT). The project has been successful in producing around 1,191,100 Orestias and 109,900 Trichomycterus in 2009 with funds from PROPESCA 2007–2011. Lake Titicaca ecological integrity strongly benefited from the research carried out by the University of Barcelona (UB) and Madrid's Natural Sciences Museum (MCNM), which focused on the genetic characterization of the different native species in the lake. Among other findings, this study concluded that the genus Tricomychterus is represented in the lake only by T. dispar and not by two species as previously thought (Sostoa et al., 2010). The results obtained by this research have been of great significance and need to be translated into effective policy measures to influence regional fisheries. Furthermore PROPESCA supported the activities by Puno's Regional Production Directorate (DIREPRO). This regional institution was supported in its monitoring capacities to regulate the extraction of endangered fish species through the application of local rules (such as the December 2008 “Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Regulation for Lake Titicaca's basin” Decreto Supremo, D.S.023-2008-PRODUCE) as well as in its Small scale Fisheries Training and Extension Program which offered alternatives to fisheries. The focus of PROPESCA and several of the projects aforementioned in protecting endangered native species supported the biocentric ethic proposed by Yaffee (1999). This biocentric ethic, that allocates survival rights to nonhuman life by protecting endanger species, arises in ecosystem management.
Data collection through scientific research improves the ecological, environmental and production information. Adding to IMARPE’s studies, the investigations of the Old Dominion University Research Foundation (ODURF) for studies leading to the determination of the carrying capacity of the lake will help understand the lacustrine ecosystem and the processes that characterize it. When this research is complete, the results of this model will be an important input to decision makers on the promotion of tourism, urban planning and the limits of aquaculture development in the lake, as a recent market-driven study estimates Titicaca's aquaculture production in 100,000 MT by 2020 (Maximixe Consults, 2010). IMARPE further strengthened this theme by investigating the priority areas for aquaculture development in the Lake and the physicochemical parameters of limnological importance. Monitoring is done among other projects through the construction of the first cadastral data base of aquaculture permits in the lake. This initiative contributed to the regulation, promotion and development of the activity, helping locate and characterize aquaculture farms, its culture density, its impacts and the relation with its surrounding local environment. Monitoring of the whole PROPESCA policy is done by an external consultancy. The aim is to identify the progress of the different projects, as well as assessing the compliance of PROPESCA's broader objectives and goals. This consultancy further impacts Adaptive Management, as critically evaluating the results and actions of each project served as a learning opportunity for all stakeholders and gave the necessary inputs to modify the project's direction.
Interagency cooperation was a key theme for PROPESCA's effective implementation. Being a policy born from a development cooperation agreement among two agencies, PRODUCE and AECID, from its design this policy searched an active inclusion of several institutions. The policy design and implementation favored the creation of a network of stakeholders that intensively interacted in the creation of the first Puno's Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Strategic Plan 2010–2021. Conscious of the importance of binational cooperation, several activities to strengthen this relation were carried out within PROPESCA. For example, a carrying capacity workshop with the participation of stakeholders from both countries was organized. PROPESCA also promoted the active involvement of ALT in ODURFs carrying capacity project. The experience from Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity project (1995–2000), where 4 riparian countries sharing a common ecosystem (Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi, and Congo) have moved forward in interagency cooperation towards ecosystem management (Nkotagu, 2008), may be a valuable learning experience for Lake Titicaca interagency cooperation. Only with the support of international funding were these African developing countries able to continue with the second phase of this initiative, Lake Tanganyika's Management Planning Project (LTMPP).
In the case of PROPESCA it is too early to assess if Organizational change towards a biocentric approach will occur in the involved organizations. However when external funds are involved, donor agencies can condition the transfer of such funds to the inclusion of this kind of approaches. Donor agencies strongly influence institutional dynamics. In the case of PROPESCA for instance, the motivation for receiving important amounts of finance favored institutional efficiency, that is, it caused institutional change towards an administrative efficient approach. Since 2007 the amount of time needed to have the funds available for a specific project halved.
Humans embedded in nature, is a basic theme in ecosystem management in which human activities are integrated in the natural dimension. In this case, the main human activities are fisheries and aquaculture. The promotion of aquaculture development in the lake was a central activity of PROPESCA's 2007-2011 policy. The registered number of hectares used for Trout culture and the total production rose during the course of the project from 160 ha. (2,981 MT) to 358 ha. (9,437.8 MT) at the end of 2009. Partly funded by PROPESCA, the National Fisheries Development Fund (FONDEPES) promoted aquaculture activities through loans. In the last 4 years the number and amounts of loans granted increased, from 4 aquaculture loans for a total of US$ 26,000 in 2007 to 43 loans with a value of US$ 267,000 in 2009. Furthermore PROPESCA 2007–2011 funded the activities carried out by the Small-scale Fisheries Extension Program, raising fishermen awareness on the use of adequate fishing gear and the importance of fishing bans to achieve sustainable fisheries management.
Values are a social construction and can evolve to a more conservation and sustainable approach if the social actors are provided with reliable data and information. In this sense the policy targeted at a broad participation of different sectors. A central role of PROPESCA was to broadly disseminate information and research results on environmental and production issues through several strategies (leaflets, workshops, radio ads, conferences, website). For example, several thousand Peruvian fishermen were updated on the latest scientific information and more than 800 participants were trained in the implementation of good fishing practices.
Ecosystem management approach is a continuum evolution into management practices from an anthropocentric to an ecocentric perspective (Yaffee, 1999). Some challenges towards a more ecological approach of Lake Titicaca are associated with PROPESCA's goal to achieve a competitive and sustainable aquaculture and fisheries. Most aquaculture research involved trout culture while little information is available on the culture of native species like Trichomycterus that are highly valued by the local inhabitants. The political will to develop aquaculture activities needs to find a balance with ecological concerns, before aquaculture activities have an irreversible damage on Lake Titicaca's health. Another challenge, once the governmental policy PROPESCA 2007–2011 and its funding end, is the continuity of several projects. For example, PROPESCA has been investing money in operability and once this funding ends the actions carried out may weaken or in some cases disappear if no alternative financial sources are sought. Furthermore, through time governmental staff may change and with them new priorities may be identified. These new priorities may not support the continuity of those activities with an ecocentric approach previously identified and carried out by PROPESCA.
Ecosystem management was approached by PROPESCA in order to understand components, processes and services of Lake Titicaca's ecosystem. This governmental policy was concerned about the maintenance and restoration of the lacustrine ecological integrity (populations, species and habitat), while focusing on the satisfaction of human needs through sustainable fisheries and aquaculture activities. In the last 4 years of intervention in Lake Titicaca through several institutions, PROPESCA has favored a coordinated action of the relevant Peruvian fisheries and aquaculture sector institutions. The policy has reached important goals on the Peruvian side of the lake and some grounds have been established to support coordinated actions with Bolivian counterparts. However, integrated ecosystem based management in the lake is a process that requires further progress on binational cooperation. Bilateral links between the fisheries sector institutions on the Peruvian side and those responsible on the Bolivian side need to be reinforced, as well as possible interactions occurring through Lake Titicaca's Binational Authority (ALT), whose objectives go far beyond fisheries management.
Special thanks to the Ministry of Production and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation for their support in the completion of this article.