Edgardo Gomez Pisco was born in the town of San Cristóbal, in the District of Sarayacu, Department of Loreto, in the Peruvian Amazon. His childhood was split between school in the town of Dos de Mayo and work and life on his parents’ farm on the edge of a near-by lake. His family was and remains expert farmers, hunters, and fishers. Edgardo often spent extended time in the fish camps in which his maternal grandfather and various uncles lived 2-4 months a year fishing and salting fish that would feed their families’ for the rest of the year. Several of these men were known as fisgas, expert fishermen who specialized in fishing for Paiche (Arapaima gigas).
Upon graduating from high school, he attended one year of technical school, where he began studies to become an accountant. After one year, his family could no longer support his studies, and he began to work independently.
Since the age of 15, Edgardo has played an active role in Peru’s political party, APRA. In 1984, he became the district level secretary general for the youth arm of the party. During this period he met and coordinated party activities directly with Alan Garcia Perez, two time former president of Peru.
In 2004, facing what they observed to be rapidly declining fisheries and ‘an irrational exploitation’ of the fisheries by both local and urban based fishing groups, Edgardo was elected by his hometown of Dos de Mayo to serve as president of the town’s fish protection committee. The committee assumed the responsibility of managing long established local efforts to manage the local floodplain lake fisheries and to protect local water bodies and their resources. Though regional and national law and agencies deemed these local measures illegal and counter to regional development, the local communities had for at least the past fifty years maintained rules and regulations to limit pressures on the local fisheries and ensure the local fisheries’ long-term sustainability. Edgardo and the committee faced continued legal charges as a result of their work.
From December 2005 until 2011, Edgardo served as the district level gobernador, representing Alan Garcia’s government at the district level. During this time, he travelled extensively throughout the district (an area the size of the state of Delaware with more than 70 recognized towns and villages), personally feeling the urgent and overwhelming need with which the vast majority of the district’s residents live. Witnessing the extension and effects of the extreme poverty inspired him to begin actively looking for creative, sustainable solutions.
Edgardo currently serves as the local facilitator for VASI, a community-based project founded by nine communities within his home district, undergraduate students from those communities, and scientists (both Peruvians and international). VASI has the broad goals of improving quality of life and contributing to conservation and sustainable development. The project has three main branches: collaborative community-based scientific research, increasing opportunities for higher education, and applied projects. The first applied project is developing an integrated agroforestry system based around a native, flood resistant, highly aromatic variety of cacao.