For long and for many Brazilian families sardine has a staple food and 100.000 tons were unloaded in Brazilian ports during 2009, mostly in the states of Rio do Janeiro, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. However there are growing risks of over-fishing and an awareness plan has been implemented.
Sardine stocks in the late eighties and early nineties were at risk because of over-fishing but have since increased thanks to conservation measures implemented by Brazil’s federal government and supported by the private sector.
One of the main instruments has been fishing bans: one in summer, from November to February and in winter, between 15 June and 31 July. The first ban is geared to help the reproduction of the biomass, and the second to facilitate sardines to develop to an ideal catch size.
The sardine is not the only limited resource in Brazilian waters, since 80% of its species are overexploited. According to the coordinator of Fisheries Ordinance from the Brazilian Institute for Environment and Natural Renewable Resources, (IBAMA), Clemeson José Pinheiro da Silva, a working alliance between the government and the productive sector is essential for the instrumentation of conservation measures to ensure seafood resources.
“One thing is to announce a ruling, another to implement it and make people comply with it. We need the rules to be accepted and legitimized by different sectors of society, as the government does not have a control structure that can adequately control all Brazilian coasts and rivers,” said Pinheiro da Silva.
Besides bans, IBAMA develops management plans for five seafood species to ensure conservation. Lobster was the first resource included in the management plans, Jornal do Brasil reports. The second will be sardines, and then on sharks, shrimp, crab and seahorses.
However if domestic consumption continues to grow at the current rate Brazil will be increasingly dependent on imports, points out IBAMA that anticipates a sardine catch of 120,000 tons for 2010.
Dario Vitale, head of the fishing industries organization from Itajaí, Santa Catarina state underlined the importance of conservation and fishermen’s awareness.
“We managed to create awareness among fishermen who have fully understood that a sustainable industry is essential for the process of generating production and wealth,” said Vitale.