Traditional food or biocultural threat? Concerns about the use of tilapia fish in Indigenous cuisine in the Amazonia of Ecuador.
This article contributes to streams of knowledge related to biocultural diversity, food tourism and the cultural impacts of introduced species. Specifically, it explores the concerns that arise from the promotion of tilapia fish Oreochromis niloticus in Indigenous cuisine along a touristic route in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Although the environmental impacts of tilapia in the Amazon ecosystem have been largely documented, reports of cultural impacts are still scarce. This research addresses this gap by applying a biocultural approach, which provides a more systemic and pluralistic view of this introduced species in the local food systems of this region. This qualitative research used semi-structured interviews, observations, a workshop and the analysis of restaurant menus to understand the complexity of the tilapia issue in this case. The results report the factors influencing the promotion of tilapia fish as traditional food, how locals perceive this promotion and its impacts on local culture and biocultural conservation, and locals' proposals to mitigate these impacts. The discussion section uses a biocultural ethics approach to analyse these results. We focus on stakeholders' perspectives and actions to address the tilapia issue in their region while navigating their multiple ways of valuing their human-environment relations and adapting to uncertain scenarios.