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As a follow up to my post of a few weeks back “Lobsters Please walk this way” below is the link to a news item shown on Brazilian television concerning the capture of an illegal lobster fishing boat. The news item is in Portuguese so for non speakers;
The news reader announces the arrest of 4 fishermen who will be charged with environmental crime. The Brazilian Navy captured the boat in the waters of the Extractive Reserve of Prainha do Canto Verde, with more than 250 kg of illegally captured lobster. Alexandre Caminha, an environmental analyst with ICMBio (one of the regulatory bodies involved in the capture)  demonstrates a lobster taken from the hold which measures less than 10cm, the legal minimum capture size is 13cm, he says they know the men were fishing illegally by diving, as there are no traps on board the boat.
The journalist on board says that if the men are convicted they could spend up to 3 years in prison. The boat (which had irregularities in its paperwork) will be held until a fine is paid (the amount is not specified). The confiscated lobster will be donated to charitable institutions.
Adauto Braz da Silva, Capitão de Mar e Guerra (Captain of sea and war) explains that the navy’s speed boat has greatly facilitated this kind of work in open waters, that they have been patrolling and importantly, would continue to patrol the coastal waters of Ceará.

Four people arrested for environmental crime.

Obviously this is good news but…..

The amount of lobster on board the boat, probably captured over one, or at most two days, is roughly 80 to a 100 times greater than the average catch a boat using traps in Prainha could hope to catch over the same period of time.

If you calculate the financial gain of these lobsters to the boat owner, it is easily worth his while to risk the slight possibility of capture and being fined. It is the men on board who risk the prison sentence if they are convicted (and that’s a big if), the boat owner simply pays the fine, has the boat released, re crews it and sets off again, a small price to pay for what is a very lucrative business for him.

The Navy captain states that the sea patrols will continue, which I’m sure the men of Prainha will be delighted to hear. Unfortunately the patrols did stop (or moved elsewhere, Ceará does has a large coastline after all) following the start of the lobster season and as the men here feared, a large number of illegal boats returned to fish the Reserves waters. The men in Prainha report that their catch rates have dropped due to the illegal fishing pressure and that the waters are teaming with illegal boats once more. We can only hope for more arrests of this nature and the full application of the law.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2013

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