CEO Note: Brazil Begins Science-Based Management of its Fisheries | Oceana
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May 17, 2018

CEO Note: Brazil Begins Science-Based Management of its Fisheries

Dolphins signal to fishers in Laguna, Brazil when to cast their nets


This week, Oceana and our allies won a significant victory in Brazil when new management rules for the tainha (gray mullet) fishery were published. For the first time, this fishery — important for both commercial and artisanal fishermen — will be subject to scientific management, stock assessments and catch limits.  We applaud the decisionmakers in Brazil who took this step forward during a time of significant political upheaval.

Oceana opened its offices in Brazil in 2014 to campaign for responsible fishing in South America’s largest country. Despite its status as one of the most advanced economies and governments in the world, Brazil collected almost no fisheries data and had no catch limits for any ocean fish, leading to overfishing and declining stocks.

Oceana’s team in Brazil successfully partnered with small-scale and commercial fishers to change this unsustainable status quo. Bringing together these two sectors — which have traditionally been at odds — was no easy task, but Oceana recognized that a long-term solution could benefit both groups. Together, we launched the “Tainhometer” — an online tool where these fishers could report data from their tainha catches. We learned how much was being caught, where it was caught, and what gear was used. It became hugely popular with the fishing sector who relished the chance to demonstrate the importance and scale of the tainha fishery. As a result, for the first time, Brazil had a data-informed view of the fishery and all the relevant parties saw that it was possible and beneficial to collect the necessary information for responsible management.

In the coming weeks, we will launch the Tainhometer 2.0 — this time in partnership with the Brazilian government. The new version will store fishing data and monitor the total catch against the new catch limit while offering news, statistics and fleet tracking maps based on VMS data. And we will continue our work to ensure that tainha is just the first of many species brought under scientific management in Brazil.

A well-managed ocean requires these sorts of policies, which have introduced needed science-based policymaking into Brazil’s oceans. Worldwide, the potential of a well-managed ocean is tremendous: a healthy seafood meal, every day, for more than a billion people. We can help feed the planet with wild fish, a protein source that, especially in comparison to land-based agriculture, produces only modest amounts of greenhouse gas and requires virtually no fresh water or arable land to produce. Policy victories like this one in Brazil are how we, together, can save the oceans and help feed the world.