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CRITICAL CONSTRAINTS TO REGULATE FISHING CAPACITY FOR SUSTAINABLE HARVESTS IN SOUTHEASTERN BRAZIL - NOTES FROM THE BRAZILIAN SARDINE FISHERY EXPERIENCE - M.A. Gasalla and S.L.S. Tutui[68]


Abstract: Over the last 20 years, the Brazilian sardine fishery has experienced a considerable increase in fishing effort and a corresponding decrease in stock abundance. While natural oceanographic events have contributed to the decline in stock size, overfishing is considered a major factor underlying the depletion of the stock. In this paper, the results of a survey of experts on factors that limit the development of effective fisheries management in Brazil are presented. The survey identifies a range of factors, ranging from structure of the bodies responsible for fisheries management, policies that are not based on scientific evidence and poor enforcement.

1. INTRODUCTION

The Brazilian sardine fishery is the main capture fishery of Southern Brazil in terms of fishing effort employed. Excessive effort, in combination with adverse oceanic conditions for spawning, resulted in the stock being overfished since the late 1980s. Natural variability, also related to oceanographic structure, affected recruitment success and larval survival, and hence is an important factor that explained the decline in the sardine stock. However, these variations did not reduce the importance of the regulation of fishing capacity.

In this paper, experiences from the Brazilian sardine fishery will be used to determine the critical constraints important for management that could promote sustainable harvests. To assess the constraints, the analysis followed two steps: (1) assessment of the problems reviewing historical data and official documents, and (2) identification of constraints by a survey of experts' based on questionnaires. The objectives of the survey were to: (a) identify the factors that a panel of experts believe have the greatest importance to the decision-making process when considering regulation of fishing capacity in the region, and (b) highlight the relative importance of main considered factors with respect to alternatives strategies for managing stocks and fishery effort.

The overall objective of this paper is to identify the main problems of regulation, by consulting different perspectives from the fisheries sector of the Brazilian society. It also reports the main policies of Brazilian government concerning sardine fishery regulation. The focus of the paper is on the main problems identified along the Southern Coast of Brazil concerning the regulation of the fisheries.

2. HISTORY OF THE FISHERY AND REGULATION

The fishery of the Brazilian sardine, Sardinella brasiliensis, is considered the most important capture fisheries of Southern Brazil, extended from 22º to 29º S (Figure 1). First records of this fishery were dated from 1910; engine-powered boats began operating in the late 1930s, but it has been an industrial activity only since 1964, after which it showed rapid increases in catches.

Figure 1. South-eastern Brazilian Bight

In the early seventies, government subsidies stimulated fisheries investment. In 1973, sardine landings reached about 228 kt, after which catches trended downward until the 1990s (Figure 2). Between 1975 and 1987, production values oscillated about 128 kt, and between 1988 and 1996, medium values reached only 65 kt. In 1988, sardine stock collapse was already recognized, and technical working groups proposed severe recommendation for fishery management (Rossi-Wongtschowski et al., 1995; SUDEPE/PDP, 1989). Catches have shown some signs of recuperation after the lowest point of 32 kt in 1990.

Figure 2. Recorded catches of Brazilian sardine (Sardinella brasiliensis).
(Source: SUDEPE, IBAMA, Instituto de Pesca).

One limitation of the analysis was that effort measures were not continuously collected along the main landing points of the coast, and data are restricted to the period 1974-1983. The change in CPUE (in number of hauls) over this period is showed in Figure 3. The fisheries statistics collapse in the 1980s was due to the heterogeneity of catch information collection along all sardine fishery ports and the lack of human and financial resources[69]. This scenario did not allow CPUE trends to be correlated with fishing power variations (IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991b).

Figure 3. Evolution of CPUE of Brazilian sardine (Sardinella brasiliensis)
(Source: SUDEPE, IBAMA, Instituto de Pesca).

During the period 1974-1976, it was observed that the resource abundance (indicated by CPUE) decreased while effort increased, with a critical situation in 1976 when the total catch was the lowest over the 1974-1983 period. This trend is observed in the two following years, with the highest fishing effort levels observed in all registered fishery period (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Relation between CPUE and effort (in number of hauls)
(Source: SUDEPE, IBAMA, Instituto de Pesca).

The sardine fleet size had increased irregularly, with continuous fisheries licence concessions. Unlicensed fishing has been reported only since 1989 (Table 1), although some boats have subsequently received licences. Unlicensed fishing vessels have been excluded from the fishery since 1991. Since the 1970s, the fleet has shown some technological evolution (Table 2) with a 300 percent increase of gross tonnage until the 1990s (IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1994). After 1988, auxiliary equipment, such as sonar and "power block", was introduced. However, the relationship between modernization and fishing power was not measured (IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991b).

Table 1. Sardine fleet size in number of boats (RJ - State of Rio de Janeiro; SP - State of São Paulo; SC - State of Santa Catarina).

Year

With licence

Without licence

Observations


RJ

SP

SC

Total



1977

91

36

36

163

-

> 20 GT

1982

154

89

106

349

-

All boats

1983

137

94

85

316

-

All boats

1989

105

113

99

317

257

All boats

1990

108

112

104

324

80

All boats

1991

131

114

107

352

0

All boats

Source: IBAMA, 1997; IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991a, 1991b, 1993, 1994; SUDEPE, 1977; SUDEPE/PDP, 1983.

Table 2. Sardine fleet characteristics, average values.


Gross Tonnage

Horsepower

Total length (m)

Age

1977*

55.10

251.00

-

-

1982

40.00

-

16.78

17

1990

54.75

244.42

19.96

-

1991

55.00

243.77

19.45

-

1992

55.30

244.80

19.50

-

* Only boats bigger than 20 GT. Source: IBAMA, 1997; IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991a, 1991b, 1993; SUDEPE, 1977; SUDEPE/PDP, 1983.

A review of federal policies, recommendation of technical working groups and effective closure periods for the 20 years of sardine fishery is given in Table 3. Regulatory policies included limiting licences, closure period for spawning, minimum length size and a later closure for recruitment after collapse. It can be noted that recommendations were partially taken into account in the official regulation and its effective complement.

Table 3. Fisheries policies concerning regulation of the sardine fishery, 1977-1997.

Year

Policies

Recommendation of technical working groups

Effective closure periodsa

1977

40 day closure for spawning (1978)
60 day closure for recruitment (1978)
Legal minimum length (17 cm)
Limiting fleet size



1980


Maintain fishing effort at present levels
Keep spawning closure in 1981
Keep minimum length


1981


Maintain fishing effort at present level
Keep spawning closure in 1982
Keep minimum length (17 cm)
Implement licenced fleet study Improve fisheries statistics


1983

Licence to pole and line vessels

Maintain fishing effort at present level
Keep spawning closure in 1984
Keep minimum length (17 cm)
Continuous study of licensed fleet Implement study on fishing power determination
Continue to improve fisheries statistics


1984

Limiting fleet size
Establishment of licensing policies
Tolerance of 15% of catch <17 cm


January

1985

Spawning closure in 1986
Licences to pole and line vessels

Maintain fishing effort at present level
Spawning closure between 20/12/86-31/1/87
Keep minimum length (17 cm)
Continuous study of licensed fleet Continue to improve fisheries statistics






1987

Tolerance of 15% of catch <17 cm

40 day closure for spawning between January and
February Stop new licences
Ban non-purse-seine licences
Improve enforcement of juvenile commercialization

January

1988

Spawning closure in 1989


January

1989

Give licences for unregulated boats

Continue spawning closures as before
Keep minimum length (17 cm)
Continue to improve fisheries statistics
Strong enforcement
Population structure monitoring
Hydro-acoustic surveys
Direct estimation of spawning stock size

Dec-Jan

1990

71 day closure for spawning (1991)
92 day closure for recruitment (1991)
Revoke licences to pole and line vessels


Dec-Jan

1991

48 day closure for spawning (1992)
74 day closure for recruitment (1992)

Keep minimum length (17 cm) with 5% tolerance
90 day closure for spawning (1992)
90 day closure for recruitment (1992)
Continue to improve fisheries statistics

Jan-Feb,
July-Aug

1992

63 day closure for spawning (1993)
74 day closure for recruitment (1993)
Revoke licences to pole and line vessels
Legal minimum length (17 cm)
Tolerance of 10% of catch <17 cm

Keep minimum length (17 cm) with 5% tolerance
90 day closure for spawning (1993)
90 day closure for recruitment (1993)

Jan,
July-Aug

1993

80 day closure for spawning (1994)

No recommendations

Jan-July

1994

45 day closure for spawning (1994)
85 day closure for recruitment (1995)

Ban fishing for a period of no lower than 28 months

Jan-Feb

1995

Spawning closure in 1996

No workshop

Jan-Feb

1996

135 day closure for spawning (1996)

No workshop

Jan-Feb

1997

91 day closure for spawning (1997)
Limit permitted fleet size

No workshop

Jan-Feb

a). Recommendations of technical working groups were obtained from official reports.

b) Effective closure periods were estimated from catch statistics. Source: IBAMA, 1997; IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1989, 1991a, 1991b, 1993, 1994; Jablonski, 1998; SUDEPE/PDP, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1989.

3. SURVEY ANALYSIS

Several fisheries sector experts from national and state organizations of Southern Brazil were interviewed in order to identify the factors that have had a major impact on the regulation of fishing capacity. Surveys were conducted in their own working places (i.e. universities, government offices, fisheries cooperatives, associations of fishermen and vessels owners, enterprises, landing points, etc.) using a common questionnaire. The questionnaire included open-ended questions about the experts' opinions on the main problem regarding fisheries regulation and sardine decline and management.

The first aspect of the survey analysis elicited expert's opinion about the major causes of the decline and overfishing of the sardine fishery (Figures 5 and 6). Excessive effort and oceanographic anomalies were the most frequent causes of the catch decline suggested by the experts. The survey results suggest that the excessive fleet size and modernization of the fleet was the main factors responsible for overfishing. This suggests that regulation of fisheries was considered an important issue to the sardine conservation. In terms of measures considered effective to the regulation of sardine, the most important was "limiting the number of fishing units" (Figure 7).

Figure 5. Major possible causes for the sardine catch decline

Figure 6. Major possible causes of the sardine overfishing

Figure 7. Main policies considered more effective for regulating fishing effort

According to the survey, the present regulatory system does not seem appropriate given the actual needs of the sector. Other measures that could be implemented concerning the management of the sardine fishery are presented in Figure 8. A possible allocation of catch quotas seems to be the most popular idea in the fisheries sector.

Figure 8. Main policies that could be implemented for sardine management

Information on the main constraints to fisheries regulation in Southern Brazil was also collected in the survey. It was found that the main problems pointed out by experts concerned fisheries management, legislation and enforcement (Table 4).

Table 4. Main problems to fishery regulation in Southern Brazil identified by the survey.

Main subject/topic

Major problems

Management


·

Administration Structure

Centralization of responsibilities and regulation at the Federal level


Integration and coordination between Federal, State and municipal government agencies


Structural changes in government institutions responsible for fisheries


Fisheries management does not take into account regional issues


Inflated bureaucratic structure of environmental federal agency


Weak support of productive sector on regulatory measures


Stakeholders fail to appreciate the need for regulation


Failure of fleet regulation; Poor fisheries statistics


Lack of stock monitoring and systematic assessment


Disconnection between scientific progress and decision-making process


Existing rules are impractical to enforce


Legislation failure; Weak enforcement


Management made without a performance evaluation


Lack of monitoring system of fisheries as a whole

·

Policies

Negligible economic importance of fisheries at the federal level


Lack of participation of the productive sector


Changes in government institutions responsible for fisheries administration


Need for more scientific research-oriented management procedures


Discontinuous research projects


Lack of agreement between user groups


Strong influence of lobbies in the decision making process


Lack of socio-economic analysis and policies


Lack of demand-oriented regulation policies


Stakeholders might pay for the resource and utilization


Need to take into account ecological criteria and ecosystems carrying capacity

·

Education

Lack of proper education and training of government employees


Need for environmental education (society in general)

Legislation


·

Elaboration

Top-down regulatory model


Dated legislation


Lack of mobilization and participation of society and stakeholders


Lobbies-oriented elaboration process

·

Basis

Not based on up-to-date scientific research results


Several cautions pointed out by scientists were not contemplated by law


Closures with biological and environmental failures


Time disconnection between science and law


Lack of specific legislation (in terms of biological species)


It is extended out of the reference area

·

Applicability

Problems concerning complement of law


Lack of socio-economic impact evaluation


Lack of sound structure for the law complement


Lack of an adequate enforcement system

Enforcement


·

Structure

Lack of extensive enforcement


Lack of monitoring of enforcement execution


No participation of Navy in coastal fisheries surveillance


Insufficient enforcement staff

·

Operation

Lack of training of human resources involved in the process


Regional differences in law interpretation

Management, legislation and enforcement of fisheries have to be examined in the socio-economic context of the country. Between the present problems of Brazil, the negligible economic importance of fisheries at the national level leads to a potentially unstable system of ineffective fisheries management. An example of this political instability is, in this case, given by the location of fisheries within the government structure. Initially, the Ministry of Agriculture was responsible for fisheries, associated with a development policy of subsidies and fomentation. In the late 1980s, responsibility for fisheries was moved to the National Environmental Agency (IBAMA) (part of the Ministry of Environment) which was mostly concerned with conservation issues. More recently, a Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been created, and responsibility for fisheries is back with the Ministry of Agriculture. This generates a crisis in ministerial instances between the two agencies and could lead to a new approach for the activity.

The disconnection between research and other sectors of fishing activity is another important constraint. Failures in the linkage between scientific answers and legislation formulation were observed (see Table 3 and 4). Stakeholders desire a closer relationship between science and commercial activity. Nevertheless, several efforts have been made to construct policy legislation with the aim of regulating fishing activity for sustainable harvests (Table 3).

Another important problem extracted from Table 4 is that stakeholders give little support for regulation due to the perception that the main policies are neither effective nor science-oriented. This reflects the fact that Brazilian society as a whole has poor consciousness and participation in regulation processes.

In this sense, training and education to all players of the fishery sector will be the main perspective to the success of any regulation.

4. CONCLUSIONS

Despite the consequences of natural variability of a small pelagic resource, the experience with the Brazilian sardine regulation has shown that the improvement of several points concerning fishery management in Brazil is necessary.

A better definition of management goals, education and commitment will be essential for the improvement of the measure of fishing capacity. It will only be possible when fishery management could transcend a mere technocratic exercise.

5. REFERENCES

IBAMA, 1997 Relatório preliminar da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (23 a 27 de setembro de 1991). Coleção Meio Ambiente, Série Estudos Pesca, nº 4, Brasilia. 41pp.

IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991a Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha. (22 a 26 de outubro de 1990). Ibama/Centro de Pesquisa e Extensão Pesqueira das Regiões Sudeste e Sul. 31pp.

IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991b Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha. (23 a 27 de setembro de 1991). Ibama/Centro de Pesquisa e Extensão Pesqueira das Regiões Sudeste e Sul. 15pp.

IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1993 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha. (15 a 23 de outubro de 1992). Ibama/Centro de Pesquisa e Extensão Pesqueira das Regiões Sudeste e Sul. 8pp.

IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1994 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha. (04 a 08 de outubro de 1993). Ibama/Centro de Pesquisa e Extensão Pesqueira das Regiões Sudeste e Sul. 8pp.

Jablonski, S. 1998 Nota sobre o ordenamento da pescaria da sardinha verdadeira nas regiões Sudeste e Sul. FIPERJ Informe 98.5, Rio de Janeiro. 9pp.

Rossi-Wongtschowski, C.; Saccardo, S.A.; Cergole, M.C., 1995 Situação do estoque da sardinha (Sardinella brasiliensis) no litoral Sudeste e Sul do Brasil. Coleção Meio Ambiente, Série Estudos Pesca, nº 17, Brasilia. 44pp.

SUDEPE, 1977 Anuário do registro geral da pesca. Ministério da Agricultura, Brasilia. Nº 1. 361pp.

SUDEPE/PDP, 1980 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (15 a 16 de outubro de 1980). Programa de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Pesqueiro do Brasil. 40 pp.

SUDEPE/PDP, 1981 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (05 a 06 de novembro de 1981). Instituto de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Pesqueiro. 44 pp.

SUDEPE/PDP, 1983 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (novembro de 1982). Instituto de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Pesqueiro. 63 pp.

SUDEPE/PDP, 1985 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (15 a 23 de novembro de 1984). Instituto de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Pesqueiro. 39 pp.

SUDEPE/PDP, 1989 Relatório da reunião técnica do grupo permanente de estudo sobre sardinha (07 a 10 de novembro de 1989). Instituto de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Pesqueiro. 39 p.


[68] Instituto de Pesca, Av. Bartolomeu de Gasmao, 192, Ponta da Praia. Santos. SP Brasil 11.030-906. Email: ipescapm@eu.amsp.br
[69] Even though statistics re-organization was a permanent concern, as well as scientific cruises for the stock biomass evaluation and oceanographic features variations, it was not continuous and systematically approached (IBAMA/CEPSUL, 1991a, 1991b, and 1993; SUDEPE/PDP, 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1989).

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