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The highly productive coastal fisheries of the region, together with the major riverine/estuarine system of the Amazon basin, and a range of lesser river systems, lakes and wetlands, provide a massive resource which is largely exploited by a diverse range of small-scale fisheries. A mix of artisanal and small commercial fisheries is involved, with a wide diversity of ecosystem conditions, fish and shellfish species, catching methods, markets and management features.

In many cases, fishing activity, catch levels, values and impacts are relatively unrecorded, and as a consequence, trends in ecosystem and resource quality, small-scale fisheries outputs, and their social and economic impacts, though known to be important, are not yet strongly defined. However, some coastal fisheries in particular are becoming much more subject to management and regulation, often involving local communities in co-management, and an increasing focus on adding value locally for supply to major regional and international markets.

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