The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Peru is home to the colossal prehistoric fish, paiche, which has been gaining popularity within haute cuisine. The paiche, known as a legendary fish in the Amazon, can grow up to 200kg and 3m long. Efforts are being made to promote sustainable fishing for paiche, transforming the lives of local communities, providing them economic benefits, and promoting conservation. The rise of Peruvian cuisine worldwide has further elevated the status of sustainably farmed paiche in top restaurants.
- The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Peru’s Amazon rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot that was primarily established in 1972 to conserve the paiche, the second-largest river fish in the world.
- Historical lore associates the paiche with a ruthless warrior named Pirarucu, who was cursed and transformed into a fish. The paiche has ancient origins, dating back to the time of dinosaurs.
- The paiche has become a sought-after delicacy in Peruvian haute cuisine, with chefs like Pedro Miguel Schiaffino championing its inclusion in upscale restaurants.
- Sustainable fishing practices for paiche are being adopted by local communities, which provide them economic benefits while preserving the ecosystem. These initiatives are seen as a viable alternative to destructive activities like illegal logging, mining, and wildlife trafficking.
- The introduction of a solar-powered ice plant in 2017 aided in the safe transport of paiche from the reserve to urban areas, making the fish more accessible and economically beneficial for Amazonian communities.