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

The secret of REBYC II- LAC success in southern Brazil: working together, hand in hand, with fishing communities

The basis for the successful adoption of a bycatch reduction device (BRD) is to develop it always in close partnership with those who have a vast knowledge of the sea and the fishery, and, in fact, those that will ultimately use it, the fishers and net makers. It is essential that the project makes sense to them, so that they feel interested in incorporating the tool into their daily work. The task goes well beyond simply presenting a modification to them, it means to create the BRDs together, developing, with them, models that are tailored to the reality of their fishery.

With that understanding, the CEPSUL/ICMBio team, a partner of the REBYC II-LAC project from its very beginning in Brazil, has worked hard with fishing communities and institutions, including those that have already been working with fisheries in each region, to create a bond of trust with the community, fishers and net makers, to strengthen dialogue and think together in the construction of BRDs that are appropriate to each reality. With the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina, in Itajaí (IFSC), for instance, the team had the opportunity to develop theoretical and practical activities, including the construction and on-board testing, on the school boat “Aprendendo com o mar”, of various devices developed together with about 800 fishers. These joint activities have stimulated several initiatives of BRD development and testing by the fishers themselves, including the use of square mesh designs to reduce the catch of “miximba” (regional term for bycatch).

Fishers and net makers from all regions have been participating actively in the development of Turtle Excluding Devices (TED’s) and BRDs in all regions where they were carried out. The joint work with local institutions included prior technical visits to the fishing communities, to build acquaintance with fishers, boats, gears and catch distribution. Since the very first meetings, the devices were built in partnership with local net makers, boat owners, skippers and fishers working in the same boats that carried out the tests. Although still preliminary, various positive results are already being achieved in these regions, including the construction and testing of new models of BRDs, by the fishing communities. Much more important than the results so far achieved by the BRDs tested are the mutual confidence and trust bonds that have been created between the fishers and all institutions involved, including the CEPSUL, and the REBYC II- LAC Project team, which is introducing new perspectives on how to work together to make the fishing activities more sustainable. Here some of the testimonials from partners that have been working with the REBYC II- LAC Project:

- “If we manage to get the juveniles out of the shrimp trawl, we will stop the damaging fishing cycle. To achieve that, we are testing the square mesh each day in a different way”.

Boat owner from Santa Catarina state.

- “It is possible to realize a new way of working. Instead of accepting any device, we are helping to create them”. Fisher of medium-scale fishing boat, from Sao Paulo State.

- “The adapted net did not increase the shrimp loss. In fact, there were bigger shrimp in it than in the normal net. The bigger mesh is bringing more beautiful shrimp, probably because the smaller ones escape more”. Fisher of a small-scale fishery, from Santa Catarina State.

- “The TED is working perfectly. In the net with a TED attached, there were less rays and trash and the same amount of shrimp”. Fisher of a small-scale fishery, from Sao Paulo State.

Thanks to the fishers, net-makers and boat owners collaborating with the Project, and partner institutions, such as Fundação Pró-Tamar- Base Ubatuba, Instituto de Pesca de São Paulo- Base Ubatuba, Empresa de Pesquisa Agropecuária e Extensão Rural de Santa Catarina- EPAGRI, Centro Tamar/ICMBio, Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina- IFSC/ Campus Itajaí, Sindicato dos Armadores e das Indústrias da Pesca de Itajaí e Região- SINDIPI, Fundação Instituto de Pesca do Rio de Janeiro- FIPERJ, Associação de Pescadores e Armadores de Guaratuba e região- APAGRE, Secretaria Municipal da Pesca e da Agricultura de Guaratuba, among others, we are collectively building a sustainable future for the shrimp trawling fishery in Brazil.