The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Brazil has plans to invest as much as US$ 17 million in order to optimize fisheries patrolling during this year. Minister of Fisheries Altemir Gregolin informed that in 2009 four new vessels were incorporated in the patrolling services.
They will be used in the waters of the states of Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Ceará and Pará. Another 23 units are supposed to be incorporated over the coming months. Of these 23 units, 9 are being built and the remaining 14 will be purchased.
Gregolin said that the increased fisheries patrolling is another phase of fisheries management strengthening in Brazil, the high point of which was last year when the Special Secretariat of Aquaculture and Fisheries was made a ministry. In 2009, a new Fishing Law was promulgated, replacing one dating back to 1967.
The minister pointed out that the seafood sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Brazil including traditional fishing and aquaculture, totals US$ 2.66 billion annually. Fisheries catches in Brazil are over a million tons and the sector, much of it still coastal and artisan employs 3.5 million people.
The fisheries Minister estimates that the seafood sector has a production potential of close to 20 million tons annually, but as fisheries patrolling and management is still lacking, major investments are still needed in infrastructure, such as fishing terminals and freezing plants.
“We must monitor the situation closely; we can’t be careless. Should that happen, our natural resources would simply be exhausted,” Gregolin warned in an interview with Revista Portos e Navios.
He also stressed that good results are often obtained from simple measures, citing the example of the sardine. In the 70s, annual sardine catches in Brazil totaled 220,000 tons but they dropped dramatically to 17.000 tons because of poor patrolling.
But in 2003, the Fisheries Secretariat, the Environment Ministry and the Brazilian Environment and Renewable Natural Resources Institute joined forces, extending the ban period from four to six months, which led to quick signs of recovery. Last year, sardine catches in Brazil totaled 100.000 tons. (FIS/MP).