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Regulations on the Use of Fish and Wild Meat Segregate the Intrinsically Un-Dissociable for Subsistence Livelihoods in Colombia

Wild animals have a special importance in Colombian rural contexts, where access to other sources of protein is limited. In rural communities, fishing and hunting provide food and generate income for household subsistence. In general, an important portion of the animals harvested is consumed within the family, and the remaining surplus is traded to acquire other subsistence foods and goods. Under the Colombian legal framework, harvesting animals from the wild (fishing and hunting) for subsistence purposes is allowed without restrictions on harvested amounts, if limited to family consumption. However, the trade of wild fish and wild meat, even in small amounts, is subject to a license, permit, or authorization. Regulations for the commercial use of wild fish, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, are clear and simple to comply with. On the other hand, the commercial use of wild meat, regulated under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, remains illegal in practice, due to the complex requirements and the caveats in the regulatory framework. The reasons for these differences in the legal requirements to obtain a commercial permit for wild fish and wild meat are based on institutional differences and not on the sustainability of the practice. Considering the relevance of both hunting and fishing for rural livelihoods, it is important to question whether the current legal framework offers guarantees for the sustainable use of these resources in the future. Our analysis shows that the contrasting regulatory approaches between fish and wild meat use, as well as the discrepancies in the arguments to justify commercial fishing while prohibiting wild meat trade, have concrete consequences for local livelihoods. Moreover, instead of guaranteeing sustainability, bans on wild meat trade lead to more underground distribution channels and, potentially, also to increased pressure on fish stocks. Integrated management options need to be encouraged at the local level and promoted through integrated policy and regulatory frameworks for both resources and their habitats. Improved valuation and monitoring systems for subsistence and small-scale fish and wildmeat trade should also be integrated in the regulatory system to ensure sustainability for the future.

Author: Gómez, J.; Van Vliet, N.

Publication Year: 2018

ISSN: 1388-0292

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13880292.2018.1481598