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Ancient Fish, New Hopes

'Jungle Fish' film ties monster arapaima to the fate of a culture in Guyana

By: Special to

NORTH RUPUNUNI, Guyana  Referred to as “dinosaurs of the deep,” and believed to be the sinister reincarnation of Pirarucu, the disrespectful and taunting son of an Amazon chief, the prehistoric arapaima grow to be more than 10 feet long and can surpass 800 pounds in weight. They’re found in Rewa, a remote fishing village of about 280 people in the north Rupununi region of central Guyana, situated on the northern coast of South America.

In the new feature film directed by Louisiana Kreutz and produced by Costa Sunglasses, “Jungle Fish,” follows three expert fishermen -- Oliver White, Matt Breuer and Nathan Webber – on a two-week voyage deep into the heart of Guyana’s rainforest. Their mission: to demonstrate the arapaima could be caught with a fly rod, a feat never before accomplished. If they succeeded, it would prove the country’s fledgling sport fishing industry is viable, signaling a brighter future for the native people, the rainforest they call home and the endangered arapaima itself.

For decades, the native people of Guyana depended on extractive efforts like poaching, mining and clear cutting as a way to generate income. But unlike resource extraction practices which can quickly destroy an environment, a sustainable sport fishing business offers a way for the people of Rewa to gain economic independence for things like improved healthcare and education programs within the village, without depleting any of the area’s pristine natural resources.

“The arapaima is a true river monster,” White said. “There were definitely times during our research when we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to pull off landing one of them on fly. We went through countless fly patterns and rods before we finally dialed into how to catch one of these fish, which look like something out of the Jurassic age.

“But we knew if we could crack the code on how to catch the arapaima, it would open up a world of opportunity for the people of Rewa and for adventure anglers everywhere who live for this kind of experience. It truly is the catch of a lifetime.”

The newly created sport fishing business model in Rewa is being studied closely to see if it’s a practice that could be replicated in other indigenous areas around the world as a way to sustainably generate income without extracting resources.

Al Perkinson, executive producer of the film and active partner in the conservation project is working with the Guyanese government to establish best practice policies and procedures to ensure the fishery and the surrounding area remain a protected habitat.

“We see the initiative in Rewa as having a cascading effect,” Perkinson said. “There must be fish in order for a sport fishing business to flourish, which means there must be responsible commercial fishing and healthy habitat practices in place. A healthy habitat is achieved through responsible development in and around the water, by implementing policies that promote clean water, and by other environmentally sound practices on land like forest management and agriculture. So while the ultimate goal is to protect the fish, the means by which they are protected affects the entire eco-system in a positive way.”

The Rewa Eco Lodge, which employs everyone within the village as cooks, hosts and fishing guides, is now open for business hosting small, individual groups of anglers at a time. This flagship lodge is currently booked through 2012.

“Jungle Fish” is now available for purchase online at . Visit to watch a short trailer and see epic behind-the-scenes photographs from the project.

About Costa™

For Costa, the leading manufacturer of the world’s clearest polarized performance sunglasses, conservation is all about sustainable fishing. Many fisheries that should be vibrant and healthy are all but devoid of native fish because they have fallen victim to poor fishing practices, unregulated development, lack of watershed protection or all of the above. Costa works with partners around the world to help increase awareness and influence policy so that both the fish and fishermen of tomorrow will have healthy waters to enjoy.Costa encourages others to help in any way they can.

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