Historically, fishing is an important activity for riverine communities established along the São Francisco River, including indigenous communities. In the present study, we researched fishing activities in two villages of the Truká ethnic group, both located in the State of Pernambuco along the sub-middle section of the São Francisco River, Northeast Brazil. We recorded the richness and uses of the fished species and the ecological knowledge on these species, the fishing techniques employed and the perception of the indigenous people regarding current environmental impacts on the São Francisco River that influence local fishing.
The information was obtained through interviews with 33 Truká fishers (27 men and six women), including 17 interviewees from Central Village (Cabrobó) and 16 from Tapera Village (Orocó).
Using five fishing techniques, the interviewees caught 25 fish species, including 21 native and four exotic species. All species are used as food, and two species are used in traditional Truká medicine. The interviewees revealed that fishing currently has less importance in their subsistence. They indicated that this situation is occurring because of several factors, such as the introduction of exotic species, pollution and urbanization, that have impacted the São Francisco River, resulting in a decline of fishing resources. Nevertheless, we found that the indigenous people who are still fishing have a broad knowledge of the habitat and ecology of the target fishing.
Although fishing is declining in importance among the Truká, we found that the individuals who are still practicing this activity have a broad knowledge about the habitat and ecology of the target species and apply that knowledge to fishing methods. Knowledge about the ecology of the species and the environmental impacts that have affected them can support basic research on local fish populations and research investigating the environmental impacts, resource management and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources.