GNF - Conservation of Fish Stocks in the Middle Río Magdalena

Fish Stocks in the Middle Río Magdalena

Protection and Conservation of Fish Stocks in the Middle Río Magdalena through participatory
Resource Management in Colombia



The reduction of catches of commercially exploitable fish species on the Middle Río Magdalena threatens the income and food security of 35,000 members of the fishing communities living in the immediate vicinity of the river. At the same time, there is a lack of alternative income opportunities for the already vulnerable fishing communities – apart from working on the ubiquitous palm oil plantations. Global climate change further worsens the situation by leading to annually changing spawning seasons of fish species. As a result, fish stocks cannot be adequately protected only with rigid regulations. However, there is a lack of participatory planning instruments as well as joint coordination of measures between different actors to protect fish stocks. Corresponding mechanisms in fisheries governance urgently need to be established. Strong local fishermen's associations play a key role here, because only through them can the fishing communities succeed in perceiving the benefits and supporting the process of fisheries reorganisation.

Project Goals

The aim of the project is to reinforce and introduce participatory instruments for the joint and dynamic management of fish stocks in the river fishing communities along the middle Río Magdalena. This will allow the fishing communities to adapt to the effects of global climate change on the timing of reproduction of commercially important fish species (through dynamic setting of closed seasons and catch quotas). In this way, the fish stocks will be secure in the long term as a basis of life and an identity-giving element for 5,000 members of fishing families in the project area. Thanks to the project, the local fishermen's associations will be able to manage and monitor the fish stocks sustainably in close cooperation with the responsible Colombian authorities. Creating during the closed season alternative sources of income for the fishermen and the general community as well as motivate the youngest generation to stay in the community and contribute to a real sustainable development. At the same time, this will reduce the pressure on the fish stocks due to illegal fishing. The experience gained by the fishermen's associations in the course of the project will be recognised and shared as a good and transferable example by other communities and at regional and national level.

Project Measures

1. Development of participatory fisheries management
Work is being done to build and strengthen solid and participatory structures within which fishing communities monitor the state of fish stocks. Meetings will be organised with all stakeholders involved (Catfish Table, ES: Mesa del bagre) and planning will be carried out according to the current situation.

2. Strengthening stakeholders in participatory fisheries management
The local project executing agency Fundación Humedales will support the fishing associations in establishing viable alternative business models to fishing (e.g. aquaculture, boat rental). The aim is not only to impart technical knowledge, but also to support the structural development of the organisations. To this end, advice is given on legal matters and networking with other actors in the fisheries sector is promoted.

3. Dynamising and diversifying the local economy
In order to ensure that fishermen do not depend only on seasonal fishing and to preserve fishery stocks, various enterprises are being developed: e.g. the formulation of strategies in sustainable tourism, boat rental and provision of transport services, fish farming projects, and micro-enterprises in sand mining.

4. Transfer of experience and regional dissemination


Dissemination campaign for fishermen associations: With the aim of replicating the experience of dynamic fisheries management and transferring what has been learned to other communities, various information events will be conducted by the local project executing agency and the fishermen from the target communities.

Public relations: In order to disseminate the project activities at national level, a social networking campaign will be set up (Facebook and Twitter). At the end of the project, the partners will present a publication with experiences and results and produce a video.

Fisheries policy forums: With the aim of establishing Fundación Humedales as a relevant civil society organisation influential in the field of sustainable fisheries management strategies in Colombia, the organization will hold meetings (formal and informal) with decision-makers and national authorities during the implementation of the project.

 Fishermen on Río Magdalena
 Farbenfrohe Artenvielfalt
 Fische und der Fischfang dominieren den Alltag vieler Familien am Río Magdalena.
 Abendstimmung am Río Magdalena
 Fische sind beliebte Motive und allerorts zu finden.
 Auch an Land gibt es einiges zu tun für die Fischerfamilien.


 German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
 Foundation Ursula Merz

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

 Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
 Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
 Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Project Partner

Fundación Humedales (FH) is a non-profit NGO founded in 2000 and based in Bogotá. The NGO is recognised by the state. Its work focuses on environmental and nature conservation projects, especially in the field of sustainable fishing, as well as sustainable development at community level and the renaturation of wetlands. In doing so, the FH relies on participatory methods and closely involves the people of the local communities and municipalities. The Fundación has many years of experience in implementing fisheries projects in the target region.


There is a trusting and cooperative relationship with the Colombian fisheries authority AUNAP. Together with the Global Nature Fund, the Fundación has implemented several projects with funding from the BMZ, including "Safe drinking water for disadvantaged population groups in rural Colombia" and  "Innovative constructed wetlands (Green Filter) as a cost-effective measure to improve the water and living conditions of people in rural regions in four Latin American countries".

Project Partner

 Fundación Humedales
 Green Filter in Fuquene


Katharina Gehrig

Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Office Radolfzell

Tel.: +49 7732 9995 86



Project Period:


Project Country: 


Project Partner:



15 November 2020 - 31 December 2023




Fundación Humedales


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Stiftung Ursula Merz