BRAZIL LOBSTER FISHERY CRISIS TO WORSEN IN 2013 – ONE MORE REASON TO CLOSE THE FISHERY UNTIL 2014
The outlook is frightening, especially when comparing the last 20 years of exports*
Brazil 1991: 4.724 tons**
2012: 1,250 tons Ind. 26
Prainha do Canto Verde: 1996: 8.5 tons
2012: 1.0 ton Ind.12
The 2012 export data indicates a decline of 34%, having already fallen by 9% in 2011. Our forecast (save for some heavenly intervention) is that Brazil’s exports in 2013 will fall to 650 tons down 86% from 1991. Even the illegal divers are despondent about the new year, according to informal information supplied by owners / crew of compressor boats, production has worsened in recent months and they will survive only by receiving the unemployment benefit paid to ensure that there is no fishing during the closed season, despite the fact that they have continued fishing during the closed season to supply the Brazilian market.
According to fishermen from the ports in Fortaleza and Parajurú (Beberibe), where we find the last motor boats still fishing legally with traps, the boats will only go back to fishing in 2013 if the government creates a subsidy for legal fishers. Boat owners are undercapitalized, indebted and unable to get bank loans. Exporters who used to advance money before the opening of the season, nowadays only finance illegal fishers who still guarantee payback.
* Information quoted by official sources or business always refer to export data, Alice Secr Commerce
* lobster tails
POSITIVE BALANCE OFTHE CAMPAIGN TO CLOSE THE LOBSTER FISHERY UNTIL 2014
On Oct. 31 500 fishermen, friends and supporters attended a rally to declare a strike on lobster fishing, they submitted a proposal to President Dilma to close the lobster fishery until at least June 2014 and asked her to create an inter-ministerial task force, which would have 90 days to analyze the situation and propose solutions. We have not received the President’s response to our letter, but we are sure that she will take notice and will understand that the problem is not only social and environmental but especially economic. As fishing will only start in June 2013, time is on our side and the government has time to take measures to save the lobster fishery. Several ministries have already responded and the dialogue has begun. There has been no response from Mr. Marcel Crivella, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA).
We are working to build support for the proposal launched October 31st 2012:
- Consultations with fishermen, technicians, academics and the general public through
public consultations in coastal municipalities, press, social media and crowd sourcing* as well as contacts with fishermen, academics and NGOs in other lobster producing states (PI, RN, PB, PE, AL, SE, BA, ES).
* Abramovay R. – Muito Além da Economia Verde http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing
- We are in contact with the New Economics Foundation to quantify costs and benefits
- We are also closing partnerships with consumer organizations and environmentalists in Brazil and abroad. Among them the Monterrey Bay Aquarium who will soon publish a revised study on the sustainability of Brazilian lobster. The 2005 report is available in English at: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/content/media/MBA_SeafoodWatch_CarribbeanSpinyLobsterReport.pdf
Our expectation is that the result of the study will show the situation has worsened. The proposed moratorium and start of the certification process would be a first step in the right direction.
- We are working to improve the proposals for the reordering of the lobster fishery, but government agencies do not always cooperate and in some cases we had to resort to Federal Attorneys to gain access to information that should be public. At the end January we will publish a study on the negative impact of subsidies on fisheries, which finances illegal fishing.
- In late November the MPA promoted a working meeting in Fortaleza with 18 members of the scientific research sub-committee on lobster. The MPA has not yet released any results or referrals from the meeting. Labomar from the Federal University of Ceará apparently sent a study and research project to the MPA, but to date the content and cost of the proposal has not been announced, and it is unclear if the project was approved.
- In December in a meeting with Federal Attorney Luis Carlos of the Environmental Justice Office, several court orders were issued requesting federal government agencies to apply legislation regarding the declaration of origin of lobsters and to retrieve lobster aggregating devices which represent a potential health hazard.
- Certification of Fishing is a tool that opens the path to sustainability and fairtrade prices. Pre-assessment is the first step and identifies the changes of fisheries practices necessary before applying for full certification. The pre-assessment will result in a Fisheries Improvement Plan which will oblige government and the fishers to take measures such as: investing in research, tracing the origin of lobster, protecting reproduction, monitoring of illegal fishing and so on. We are closing an agreement with MSC to start certification of our lobster fishery on the east coast of Ceará in February. Meetings with community leaders and fishers have already started alst week. We count on the support of IBAMA (fishing authorities) to provide the best available data. The certification process which was announced last year by the State Government of Ceará at the Boston Sea Food Show has not advanced very much so far. Fisheries Improvement Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-improvement/shrimp/brazilian-lobster.
- We contribute with ideas and proposals for a more effective and efficient enforcement with IBAMA, the Navy and the Chico Mendes Institute (Federal Marine Protected Area Authority). The first step is to convince fishers that the lobster fishery has a future that they need to contribute with management and enforcement operations by creating their own local fishing regulations while complying with fisheries legislation.
- We received the list of lobster fishing permits from the MPA. The information helps us to identify boats which still use traps, so that we can calculate the cost of compensation during the proposed 18-month closure of the fishery. We will also be able to identify the effect on government subsidies on the fishery.
- The publication by Labomar (Institute of Ocean Science) of the book “Metodologias de Amostragem para Avaliação das Populações de Lagosta” (Metodologies for the evaluation of Lobster Populations) , coordinated by Professor. Raúl Izquierdo Cruz (UFC) is a positive first step to generate and disseminate new scientific information. It is important that this work is widely distributed to all users through NGOs and schools in the coastal region, thereby encouraging the integration of fishermen and civil society in knowledge production and co-management. One chapter proposes something that fishermen have long argued for, the protection of breeding lobsters in deeper water (50 – 100 meters). The older lobsters produce large quantities of eggs which are more resistant to natural mortality of larvae, thereby ensuring the recovery and maintenance of healthy lobster populations.
- We are already planning the III. International Seminar on Responsible Fisheries – featuring certification to take place in Fortaleza in April 2013.. Sponsors are welcome!
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FISHERMEN AND WOMEN OF THE COAST OF CEARÁ AGAINST ILLEGAL LOBSTER FISHING
Caixa Postal (PO box) 51, 62.840-970 Beberibe, Ceará, Brazil