Brazil’s 2017 Tainha fishing season had major innovations
Press Release Date: August 16, 2017
For the first time, associations, unions and the so-called colonies representing fisherfolk in the state were directly involved in monitoring, conducted by fisherfolk themselves – that is, self-monitoring. Many in the industry understand the importance of generating data and it seems that the next few years will see an increasing number of fisherfolk and their organizations monitoring fishing in other parts of the country. In a scenario of political-institutional crisis and numerous problems related to the management of tainha fishing, monitoring by fisherfolk will surely be remembered as a new perspective for an industry that lacks proper policies.
One of the innovations was the Tainhômetro (Tainhameter) – an online counter that recorded tainha production in Santa Catarina during fishing season, based on data generated by fisherfolk (www.tainhometro.com.br). Their organizations led the effort with technical support provided by Oceana. It involved direct participation of the Association of Professional Small-Scale Drift Netting Fisherfolk of Santa Catarina (APPAECSC), which recorded about 290 tons during the season; the Federation of Fisherfolk in the State of Santa Catarina (FEPESC), with 1,805 tons; the Association of Shipowners and the Fishing Industry of Itajaí (SINDIPI), with 1,121 tons, and of the Fisherfolk Pastoral Council (CPP) in Laguna, with 210 tons. The Tainhômetro recorded a total of 3,426 tons of tainha captured in the state.
However, where some see only figures, others will find data that are essential for management. According to Oceana’s Director Monica Brick Peres, fishing data are the basis for sustainable development of fisheries. “Without basic information about the activity we cannot manage or plan a fishery properly. We need to know how much fish is landed, which fishing gear, area and time are being used, in addition to economic data such as first sale price and operating costs. Without data and without management, the industry, the oceans and society will have major losses”. And she adds: “Programs for monitoring fisheries are vital, but regardless of that, self-monitoring will provide huge benefits to the organizations, which become the owners of that information. I believe that this effort will change the whole logic and the relationship of society with the government over time”.
This view is shared by the leaders of the associations and unions that participated in the process. According to APPAECSC president Ricardo Rego, collecting information on stocks is the main tool to show that the government can no longer make policies without listening to the knowledge of small and industrial-scale fisherfolk. “In this effort, research will help us to reverse much of the data the government gives us and we don’t know where they come from. But we can still improve monitoring, and that improvement will certainly happen in the next fishing season”, he says.
FEPESC president Ivo da Silva says that in the long run monitoring will allow knowing the potential for improving or worsening the next season. He points out that information needs to be compared year by year for several years, until it is possible to get a real picture of what has happened to tainha. “The Tainhômetro encouraged us to keep working on data collection – something we used to do not so systematically and allows us to get quicker and better information”, he reports.
For Laguna CPP leader Cida dos Santos, “some fisherfolk are still suspicious about the use of these data and that’s why we need to show their importance for a policy that is more beneficial to all”. She also explains that the CPP intends to promote a seminar to discuss the results and the lessons learned from this process with small fisherfolk from Brazil’s Southeast-South region. “We hope that fisherfolk from other states will also participate in this meeting because that would strengthen our monitoring and may involve more partners in the coming years”, she summarizes.
Another milestone in the 2017 season was the partnership between small-scale fisherfolk and fishing industries in the state of Santa Catarina. Agnaldo Hilton dos Santos, coordinator of SINDIPI’s Purse Seine Sector Chamber, points out that there is room for all types of fisheries and that he sees no reason for small and industrial scale fisherfolk to work separately toward better rules for marine fishing. He says that “the fishing production chain is complex and cannot be the target of policies made inside offices, which don’t listen to us. Now we have our own data and we’ll be able to use them together to ask for more research, more monitoring and policies that meet these results”.
With the end of the season, all fishing organizations and Oceana plan to evaluate the work done and plan the next steps for the 2018 season. “Until the last day, July 31, the Tainhômetro recorded more than 3 thousand tons, but the final figure may still change a bit. From now on, all data will be reviewed, analyzed and then compared to UNIVALI’s official monitoring. That’s the only way we can work to create more engagement and better data”, Peres says.