The father/son duo of John Anthony Sr and John Anthony Jr bagged a 'Pacu' in a pond near the Village of Lemonal, that is a part of the Savannah Wetland west of the New River Lagoon in the Orangewalk District!
The fish was speared on Valentine Day while the gentlemen were on a routine fishing expedition. Both John Jr and Sr realized that they had never encountered the species before and surmised that it was not native to the area or perhaps even the Country. Their hunch proved right with a little 'Google' Research upon their return to the village.
The 'Pacu' or 'Cachama' or 'Colossoma' is a native of northern or tropical South America and is widely known in the Guianas, Suriname and Brazil.
There are no known previous reports or sightings of the fish in Belize. The 'Pacu' measured 32 inches in length and 18 lbs in weight.
Shortly after completing their 'Google' Research the 'Pacu' was confined to the Anthony's dinner table, with a small portion of the 'Wings' or bony flanks reserved for 'corning' or Salting and Smoking. Thid is a familiar mode of preservation of fish and meats in rural Belize.
The 'Pacu' formerly classified as Colossoma macroporum has been revised to the scientific name Piaractus brachypomus is related to the Piranhas - a group of South American freshwater fishes false portrayed by Hollywood as blood hungry carnivores that would make short work of any person who unfortunately fell into the water.
The immense distances between northern South America and Belize, coupled with impassable and impossible geographic and ecological barriers, would eliminate any presence of the 'Pacu' in Belize as a function of natural events. It is likely that the fish would have escaped from Captive Husbandry or Aquaculture situations in either Yucatan México, or western Guatemala. One cannot however rule out introductions from the pet trade, vis-a-vis aquarium escapes, or wilful releases from said Mexico and/or Guatemala, as well as from within Belize.
The 'Pacu' is an attractive candidate for aquaculture given its largely vegetarian diet, docile nature, fast growth rate and low bone to carcass ratio.
Re: Exotic Fish Species Found in Lemonal, "Pacu"
#548364 02/24/2105:44 AM02/24/2105:44 AM
Distant Cousin of the Piranha is Found in New River Lagoon
A new species of freshwater fish commonly known as “pacu” has been discovered in the New River Lagoon by fishermen from nearby Lemonal. Pacu is an omnivorous fish that originated in South America and is related to the piranha. Unlike its distant cousin, pacu do not have similar teeth. Instead, they have squarer, straighter teeth much like those of humans. The sighting was made earlier this month and the presence of this invasive, non-native species suggests that it may have been introduced via the transboundary watershed between Belize and Guatemala. According to Rigoberto Quintana, the Fisheries Department became aware of the discovery on February eleventh.
“At this point we would probably link it to transboundary introduction. It could be that during extreme flood events this species might have migrate either from Peten area or has been introduced from Mexico. During flood events, the two watersheds, the New River and the Rio Hondo would merge together. In 2013, we had a report of a similar sighting in the Rio Hondo mouth. This was from Eco-Sur, Quintana Roo, so we have records of past introductions in our waterways. This is an exotic, invasive species and usually it is native to South America. This species is classified as a detritivore, meaning that it feeds on decomposed organic material in the aquatic system. It’s not a carnivorous fish, but yet it poses some threat to the aquatic environment in Belize.”
“How do we know, perhaps, how fast this species is reproducing or what can we say in terms of its propagation?”
“Okay, we will be monitoring the situation and also encourage fishers that if they see or they capture other specimen of this species, we will be doing a mapping of the New River Lagoon and the New River. If indeed it’s been established then, based on studies, we will be able to find out if there are more or if they are reproducing or a population has been established in this area.”
They are typically found in the waters of South America, but a few days ago a Pacu fish was found in a pond near Lemonal Village in rural Belize. The fish, weighing 18 pounds and measuring more than thirty inches in length was found by father and son John Anthony Sr and Jr. The discovery of this fish in Belizean waters is making news because of its invasive characteristics. Given enough time, the Pacu fish reproduces in enormous numbers which could lead to the displacement of other fishes. The Fisheries Department is monitoring the situation.