Been away for a bit

After staggering around like a drunk in a field for a bit, my good old laptop finally keeled over, it now is quietly thinking to itself as to whether or not to let me back in. I will be back on track soon, but there may well be less than usual from me for a little.

The lobster season started here on the 1st of June, its no surprise to say that its been pretty much a disaster. The illegal compressor boats have been out in force, and as they pay no regard to the closed season rule, they have been heavily fishing for some time. In the 1st week, Neu caught 1 kilo of lobster, this week it was slightly better at 4 kilos. Some boats did better, some worse, no one caught enough to cover their costs, Neu has a long way to go before he will actually start to make a profit, and as the catch rate usually declines as the season goes on, it is hard to see how any of the men will get to a profitable state.

Prainha Do Canto Verde is now an official Marine Protected Area (MPA) and an Extractive Reserve (RESEX). President Lula signed the decree on the 5th of June in Bahia creating two reserves, the other being in Cassurubá.

Brazil signed up at the Biodiversity conference in  Johannesburg, to the commitment to convert 10% of its coastline to MPA’s, it is well below this level at the moment with only 0.5% of its coastal waters with any protection, recent governmental budget cuts are likely to further hamper the creation of more MPA’s.

Having won the fight to protect their land from speculators, the people of Canto Verde are hoping that the Brazilian government will sort out the problems of the illegal fishers, and help the fishermen to begin to sustainably fish their waters. The fact that the land is now secure is meaningless if the sea remains the domain of pirates who’s only interest is short term profit, regardless of the consequences. There is very little in the way of alternative employment and the NE region, where the lobster industry is concentrated, is the poorest in the country. It is estimated that up to 150,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the lobster industry. For the 10,000 artisanal fishermen for whom lobster fishing is a way of life, the urgent need to resolve the problems of illegal fishing is a matter of survival.

Things are moving very fast here at the moment, René of Instituto Terramar said today that it is hard to keep up. It is hard to feel optimistic when we have seen time and time again a promising start, collapse and come to nothing, or leave things in a worse state than they were before, but maybe now with things being in undeniable crisis, legislation coming into force in the USA and the EU as well as in Brazil, will finally push the issue and things may get resolved. I hope so,  I no longer wish to see the look in Neu’s eyes when he comes home from over 13 hours of fishing,  he smiles gently at me but his eyes tell he has caught little or nothing, they cannot hide how crushed he feels.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2009

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