September 12, 2018
CEO Note: Victory in Brazil Protects 13,000 Square Kilometers from Destructive Bottom Trawling
BY: Andy Sharpless
We have good news from Brazil, where the government of the state of Rio Grande do Sul (located in the south of Brazil, next to Uruguay) has passed a law to ban bottom trawling in state waters. These new protections extend along the entire length of the state’s 620 kilometer coast and cover a distance out to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from shore. In total, an area of more than 13,000 square kilometers is now protected.
The news is a victory for the Oceana team in Brazil and our allies. Amidst political upheaval, our team is making real progress in a country that catches more than half a million metric tons of wild ocean fish each year.
This victory is being greeted with optimism by conservationists and fishers alike who recognize that bottom trawling is a destructive, short-sighted way to fish. As you know, bottom trawlers drag heavy gear across the seafloor — gear that captures or smashes nearly everything it encounters. And the wide nets are indiscriminate in what they catch and crush, often capturing non-target species as bycatch. Bottom trawling for fish is like hunting for rabbits by bulldozing the forest.
This kind of irresponsible fishing has had an impact in Brazil and Rio Grande de Sul. In the last three decades, more than 90 percent of the state’s fish industries have closed. As a result, local fishermen and women have welcomed these new protections because they are key to fishing sustainably and, ultimately, more productively. Research indicates that the ban on bottom trawling could increase revenue for fishing vessel owners by approximately $7.8 million (USD).
What’s good for the ocean is ultimately good for all of us. Protecting the ocean from bottom trawling means more productive fisheries, healthier ecosystems, more food and jobs for people and healthier oceans for all the creatures that live there. As we campaign for responsible management of oceans around the world, Oceana has fought bottom trawling and won significant protections in Chile, the Philippines, Belize, the U.S., the E.U. and, now, Brazil. This is how we can, together, save the oceans and help feed the world.
Thank you for your continued support of Oceana and for helping to make these victories possible.