Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC)

Socioeconomic assessment of the shrimp-trawling fishery off south and southeast Brazil

As a part of the REBYC II-LAC Project in Brazil, a socioeconomic assessment of the artisanal and industrial shrimp-trawling fishery was performed from Espírito Santo to Rio Grande do Sul states, including particularly the identification of discards, the possible use of the bycatch and the role of women in local fisheries. The analysis was done by gender (Figure 1) and considered both the target and the bycatch species. The work was based on existing secondary information and on field surveys undertaken in the Environmental Protected Area of Anhatomirim (APAA- Área de Proteção ambiental de Anhatomirim), in Santa Catarina state, one of the pilot sites of REBYC. The primary data collection aimed to complement existing data and prioritized the investigation of the role of women in the shrimp-trawling fishery.

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Figure 1. Number of fishermen and fisherwomen in the aged groups of 18 to 39
and 40 to 64 years who were beneficiaries of the insured shrimp
insurance in the year 2015, by state. Source: the author


The research evidenced a lack of data about the human dimensions of shrimp trawling in southeast-south of Brazil, when compared to the amount of bioecological data available for the same region. The data are even scarcer with regard to women's participation. Notwithstanding, the research showed that the role of women in this fishery is fundamental, especially regarding the use of the bycatch. Most of the women work in fish cleaning and processing business, since this is an activity that allows them to participate in the fishery and to take care of the household and raise the children at the same time. On the other hand, the women engaged in this kind of activity do not have a formal employment and are deprived of their labor rights.


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Figure 2. Fisherwoman Naca, resident of the community of Canto dos Ganchos
in the municipality of Governador Celso Ramos (SC)
Source: the author.

Among the interviewed fisherwomen who work on land and at the sea, two of them had left the shrimp-trawling fishery to fish with gillnets, to reconcile the fishing with the household and family care. They argued that trawling requires more time at sea and nocturnal fishing routines, making it difficult to reconcile this kind of fishing with domestic activities. A resident of the APAA, the fisherwoman Nair (Figure 2), known as Naca, a recognized local leader, stated that she moved from her hometown to work in the fish processing industry and raise her children. Nineteen years later, with her children already grown, she returned to her community, Canto dos Ganchos, and to her original occupation as a fisherwoman, on land and at the sea. "As fishing is my vocation, on holidays I always went fishing", she said. The results showed that when the fish processing is carried out in a family scale, it contributes substantially to the domestic economy, increasing the family income and enhancing food security, as well as the quality and price of the fish sold. Curiously, although the data point to a general decline in resource productivity (historical series of total yields for pink shrimp, seabob shrimp, white shrimp, Argentine stiletto shrimp and Argentine red, from 1965 to 2010), according to the APAA residents, 2017 was one of the best fishing years, “when fish was most abundant”.  


Previous studies have shown that in some places the reduction of the bycatch due to the use of Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) is negatively perceived by local fishers, since it reduces the economic yield from processing the fish, as well as its availability for direct consumption. Therefore, to understand how the bycatch works as a resource for subsistence and additional income, and to combine social goals with conservation aims are key challenges for ensuring the success of the REBYC II-LAC Project in Brazil. Likewise, it is necessary to acknowledge that women participation in the fisheries may increase the autonomy of fishing communities to trade their products, while also adding value to them. Besides, the direct sale by fishers to the consumers is ecologically positive as well, since the intermediary can no longer control the sale price. As preconized in the Voluntary Guidelines for the Sustainable Development of Artisanal Fisheries, the research has shown that gender equity is a fundamental principle to promote responsible and sustainable fishing and to ensure the food and nutritional security for fishing communities.

 Written by Ad-hoc Consultant: Giovanna C. Barreto  

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Figure 3. Fisherwoman and structure for fish processing built
a household at Fazenda da Armação, in the municipality
of Governador Celso Ramos (SC). Source: the author.

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