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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:38 pm 
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I read a nice article by Mr. Ivan Mikolji (Mikofish Organization - Venezuela). I have some comments and invite you to read the article (link herein provided).

My comments:

The Rio Pavoni is located North of Puerto Ayacucho, in the immediate area of Pozo Azul, Pozo Cristal, Caño Pargueña and other tributaries of the Atures Municipality microbasin. This was the most productive area for capture and export of Pterophyllum altum from Venezuela until about 6 years ago, when government policies regarding wildlife protection and exports started negatively affecting the already weak OTF trade in Venezuela.
The first organized exports of Venezuelan P. axelrodi and P. altum came from this area as of the early 60’s. It was much easier to capture cardinals and altum in Atures County (Puerto Ayacucho) than it was in Atabapo County. From here they were transported to Caracas for later export to Miami and the rest of the world. Still, until the late 70’s, this area was pretty remote, air transport was limited, and OTF cargoes frequently needed to travel down the Orinoco to Caicara and then by road to Caracas (over 12 hrs) or to Ciudad Bolivar (then by plane to Caracas).
It was around 1977, two or three years before my first trip to Puerto Ayacucho, that a modern Airport was put into service and jet planes could land. OTF exporters started to organize their businesses and there were a handful of successful operators servicing the U.S. and Europe.
By the early 80’s, Altum were still abundant all around Puerto Ayacucho and really, if that is what you were looking for, there was no need travel to San Fernando de Atabapo, which was pretty much further South and could only be reached by boat or privately chartered plane.
My first sighting in nature and collection of altum was in the upper leg of Pozo Azul, a stream located about a 20 minute drive north of Puerto Ayacucho. Back then, to get to Pozo Azul you needed a native from the area to tell you when to start slowing down and get off the road… You can park here! The man would say. You would get out of your vehicle and start to walk into the forest and…â€

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Last edited by puertoayacucho on Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:18 pm 
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So if I understand correctly, the locals are using a plant which produces something like rotenone to make it easier to catch food fish but a side effect is that Altums and their young are dying in large enough numbers that the population has dropped below what is necessary to sustain a thriving population.

I do not remember the name of a small national park on a small stream on the llanos which was an easy drive from the large cities and it became a popular swimming hole, camping and party spot. The habitat suffered a lot of degradation but it was another place friendly to snorkeling and viewing native fish. It was too easy to get to and weekends were too busy to bother for those who mainly wanted to swim with the fish.

It is difficult in democracies to preserve such beautiful places with easy access and even when the governments support preservation it takes a long time to change the public's attitudes and values. Harder still in autocratically governed countries.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:25 am 
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Yes, the South American Barbasco family (as it is commonly named) (several genus/species), is the raw material for most of the rotenone produced. Indians have used it since ancient times I believe, with their natural good ecological judgement without breaking the balance of the forest... seems things have gotten out of hand with the growing population.

Could be many places like that in Venezuela... probably the best known is Lake Valencia, Henry Pittier National Park, just outside the City of Valencia, (third largest city in Venezuela), also less than a two hour drive from Caracas. Diamond Tetras were part of the endemic aquatic fauna of this area. It is borderline between the Northern Llanos and the Central region. I think you might be referring to some other smaller location. Lake Valencia was the first major lake system ecologically affected (it is a closed system, not draining anywhere...except up - evaporation.).
Pozo Azul (Pt Ayacucho, Amazonas), where I used to catch most of my altum is also at present affected.
Ed

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:24 pm 
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Hi Ed,
I recall that the stream was not large and that there was a deep pool near a bridge, a pool about 3 to 4 meters maximum depth. Mesonauta, Heros were among the most common fish but there were many different Characins present as well. It wasn't very close to any rain forest like Puerto Ayacucho. Beverage cans were part of the aquascape.

The grass is always greener. I thought it was pretty cool one could drive and dive to this location in a few hours but I imagine there are Venezuelans who dream of being able to fly fish for wild trout at some of my favorite streams a few hours away. I did dive in a pool after I fished it one warm day. I have a 35 mm Nikon view finder camera which is water proof to 10 feet deep. Under water I have to use manual focus settings due to the differences in refraction index of light through water and air. I randomly took snap shots, not having any goggles and snorkel, but in some of the photos I captured shots of large Rocky Mountain Whitefish feeding on the boulders. These fish are also native to many of your rivers in Utah like the Green River.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:09 am 
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I did finally visit the Green River in 2009, but I still haven't been there fishing. I'm hoping to have more time now that my F4 life has dwindled down to an F2 (Hurricane rating). Flaming Gorge is incredible, nothing to envy the Guyana Plateaus of the Gran Sabana (Grand Savannah).

Wondering if you saw that river on Shane's Venezuelan Diaries?

Ed

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:55 am 
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I read all of Shane's diaries but have forgotten the details so I will have to review them.

I am deeply involved with several fora so it becomes to much information to retain.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:29 pm 
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Stelzig video of Pozo Azul
http://www.aquanet.tv/Video/324-venezue ... er-moderne


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:23 am 
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Well, Andreas' video pretty much answered a lot of my concerns. I didn't see a single altum in the stream... though they do have their special places...several hundred meters upstream from this area (they don't flock around in this immediate area). The video was mainly taken in the lower part where the people have torn everything up.
For a moment there I thought I saw a few U.fernandezyepezi (I will again view it later)...if so, I had not seen them there when I went.

I might add this video was taken during the high water season in flooded shallower areas. The upper part of the stream is mostly under the forest canopy and has (OR HAD!) 4 or more feet of water, more like 5-6 feet with little vegetation.

I cannot say I'm happy.

Ed

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Old thread but I have to comment.

This is very disheartening. Not just for the fate of the Altums but for the fate of everything else.

To me, this is the number one reason for breeding Altums In captivity. Reckless development will do enough to the habitat... If Altums get a burst in popularity that might spell doom for the population. Breeding Altums is beyond me, but I truly hope those on this site will be able to develop a hardier and aesthetically similar strain to stave off disaster.

I barely trust the US govt to stop wealthy farmers from shooting wolves, or careless developers from bulldozing over virgin forests. So I dont get much peace of mind when I hear South American govts are strictly regulating fish exports.

Sylvester


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Hi Sylvester and I am with you on your thoughts and concerns regarding not only the preservation of this species, but as to the conservation of nature in general. I was just reading last night an article on the Miami Blue Butterfly (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/05/2 ... lared.html) and of course, my head flew South to my homeland of Venezuela.

Fortunately for now, despite that in a few of the northernmost habitats such as the Rio Pavoni, Pozo Azul and nearby, P.altum is not seen as frequently, at least on a seasonal basis, the heartland of the species in the Rio Ventuari and Middle to Upper Orinoco, the population runs strong, at least to my knowledge.

I may criticize the true*** reasons for the decision of the current Venezuelan Govt's policy regarding OTF exports, but in a way, it does help preserve the fish species of the Orinoco and Venezuela in general.

The bad thing is that even though the Venezuelan ichthyofauna is being protected by these laws from excessive exploitation by the trade, there is a much worse predator... and this is the industrial mining activity for gold and uranium by the government. These activities produce toxic byproducts that are severely affecting the habitat in the Upper Orinoco basin as well as the Upper Rio Negro basin.

The amounts of Venezuelan P. altum making it out through Colombia are, IMO, harmless.

I may be wrong in this, and I would hope for Ivan Mikolji's opinion to this matter, but as to P. altum not being present in some tributary creeks North of Pt Ayacucho, it may be a seasonal matter and mostly due to national tourism and local recreational activities that haunt the fish away. I have seen this in the past and I have come back years later to find some of these places full of altum and other species that I had not seen for a while. But I haven't been in the area for over a decade now and I know a lot has changed.

At least as far as P.altum and a few other species, it would be for now easy to repopulate the area... if somebody cares. I know Mr. Mikolji cares, but he can't do it alone.

NOTE*** the true reason behind the OTF export policy has nothing to do with conservation, but with higher taxation and license costs. Legally, you CAN export OTF from Venezuela, but since this is considered a luxury trade activity by the socialist government, those wanting to participate in said activity need to pay ridiculously high taxes and license fees. Therefore, Venezuela cannot compete with its neighbors: Colombia, Brazil and Peru, where the trade is governed by incentive policies. At present, it is more profitable for Venezuelan fishermen to sell their products to Colombia or Brazil.
We have Iranian and Chinese contractors legally blowing up and digging in the Upper Orinoco for gold and uranium, and this is right in the heart of the major population density areas of many high demand OTF Orinoco species.



Ed

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:07 pm 
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puertoayacucho wrote:
in the Rio Ventuari and Middle to Upper Orinoco, the population runs strong, at least to my knowledge.

there is a much worse predator... and this is the industrial mining activity for gold and uranium by the government.

The amounts of Venezuelan P. altum making it out through Colombia are, IMO, harmless.


NOTE*** the true reason behind the OTF export policy has nothing to do with conservation, but with higher taxation and license costs. Legally, you CAN export OTF from Venezuela, but since this is considered a luxury trade activity by the socialist government, those wanting to participate in said activity need to pay ridiculously high taxes and license fees. Therefore, Venezuela cannot compete with its neighbors: Colombia, Brazil and Peru, where the trade is governed by incentive policies. At present, it is more profitable for Venezuelan fishermen to sell their products to Colombia or Brazil.
We have Iranian and Chinese contractors legally blowing up and digging in the Upper Orinoco for gold and uranium, and this is right in the heart of the major population density areas of many high demand OTF Orinoco species.



Ed


Ed, thanks, GREAT info.

That's good to hear that the population is still relatively stable. Although, the only thing that is certain when it comes to the environment is uncertainty. In any case I think I would probably feel comfortable buying a few Altums, if the population is stable.

Toxic mine tailings are a big problem for sure, especially for watersheds since, in addition to heavy metals and cyanide, rainwater reacts with the unearthed rock and leaches out sulfuric acid. In the rainforest that could be terrible. These problems can be reduced with good tailings management, but it cuts into profits quite a bit, so nobody will do it unless someone makes them.

Sylvester,


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:34 am 
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Add developing the petroleum reserves underlying the Altum's range to the other destructive resource extraction that is going on.
The fish belong to The People in Socialist Venezuela. In other words, the fish belong to the State. Collecting OTF for export is very much a small scale capitalistic enterprise. And the Chinese and Russians will only sell Su-30MKM, MKA and MKV 4.5 gen fighter jets and new tanks for rare minerals and oil. Why does a Banana Republic like Venezuela need such advanced and expensive weaponry?
Even thriving capitalistic Brazil has cut back on their proposed purchases of F-18 Super Hornets.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Luckily, it seems the oil reserves do not affect the area where altums are found, that is, Upper and Middle Orinoco and down South to the Rio Casiquiare, or at most, they have not yet been discovered. Extending out into the Atlantic Ocean from the Venezuelan coast, there is the Guyana Shield Coastal Shelf on which we have Trinidad and Tobago, that is where the new oil business is heading. There is plenty of oil drilling and production in the the Llanos and Orinoco Delta, and some altum can be found seasonally in some of the Western Venezuelan Llanos tributaries, but the major density areas for the species are not affected by the oil industry.

Recently, a major oil disaster caused by a pipeline spill has affected the Rio Guarapiche, the source of the municipal water supply of the city of Maturin in Monagas state. This is in far Eastern Venezuela, near the Orinoco Delta. Though we have no altum in the area, there are many other rare and beautiful species in the area.

Ed

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:43 pm 
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BTW Larry. the thing behind the anti OTF policy as some see it, is basically to try and get more money out of the people who wish to engage in this activity. The government believes it is mainly the upper or middle class that are interested in OTF export, people who have contacts, mostly based in Miami. The government thinks it is fair for these people to pay considerably more for their "luxurious' activity, more yet, if they are dealing with the U.S. where we have dollars to pay for their altums, cardinals, endlers, etc. It is an expression of the social resentment embedded into many government policies against the U.S. And actually, it was said that after complying with all the taxes and licenses, exporters could still not export to the U.S.
I pick up a lot of this info during my phone talks and emails with old friends in Venezuela who were OTF exporters. How much is true, how much exaggeration and tergiversation, I really don't know... it's just what is said and rumored. The facts are that to the public knowledge in the trade, no one is exporting directly from Venezuela.
Venezuelan fish are crossing the border and being exported from Colombia.
From a conservationist POV, this is good, because there is less OTF collection activity in Venezuela.
Ed

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:19 am 
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Distribution map of Venezuelan oil and shale oil reserves.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves_in_Venezuela
The length of the Orinoco seems to be within these zones.

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