Life for a fisherman anywhere in the world is not easy. He (I say he, though I recognise that there are many fisherwomen, including myself, however fishing remains a predominantly male activity.) is dependant on many variables most of which are beyond his control.
The majority of artisanal fishermen on Brazil’s North East coast (of whom Neu is one) depend on the lobster season (June to December) to earn enough money to carry them through the rest of the year. In the past the men could earn a reasonable living from lobster, but sadly predatory fishing with the wide spread use of illegal fishing gear has brought about a serious decline in lobster catches. While Brazil has many excellent laws covering the fishing industry, there is a distinct lack of enforcement, which allows the illegal fishermen to continue their activities to the detriment of all.
Canto Verde has pioneered sustainable fishing practises and is unique in Ceará (and possibly beyond) in that all of the fishermen within the community fish using only legally acceptable, sustainably correct fishing methods.
We hope that the example set by the fishermen of Canto Verde will be adopted by other communities, that sustainable fishing will become the norm rather than the exception, but we recognise that there is a long way to go.
Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) and eco labelling (such as that done by the MSC) have a part to play in promoting sustainable fishing and consumer awareness, but the certification process in itself can be difficult to employ in developing countries and the creation of MPA’s without the necessary means to protect and effectively enforce the rules governing them, is futile.
In our own small way we aim to spread the word, to help people understand the realities of life for small scale fishermen, and the damage that overfishing is doing to our oceans and ultimately to ourselves.
Consumer preference can force change, it is important that we all become more aware of the food we eat, how it is farmed and sourced and the effects, both social and environmental.
Claire Pattison Valente.
For more information:
On Marine Protected Areas
On Sustainable fishing
The marine Stewardship Council
U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fish Watch programme www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/
The World Wild Life Fund
Sites that help the consumer make informed choices about the fish they eat.
For information relating to fish workers the world over
Our blog pages on this site www.littlegreencorner.wordpress.com
©Claire Pattison Valente 2010