(part of the"RESEX")
The marine reserve was primarily established to protect against piracy in the lobster fishery; until about a decade ago, the main income of Prainha's fishermen!
Young men do not want to
fish any more
Today, the youth is well trained in internet-accessible tourism professions, thanks to the "local tourism projects" sponsored by European NGO's in the first years after the "RESEX" was founded. Young women also marry later and some are well educated. Often they look for jobs in a nearby town, but most of them still want to live in Prainha.
Although the lads are proud of their fishing fathers, occasionally helping to launch and land their father's Jangada, but they are at most 'hobby fishermen“. Rather than go fishing at a young age out on the open ocean like their fathers, they prefer to compete with self-made models in shallow water.
Without a new generation of fishermen in Prainha, will a marine protected area- the "RESEX" --be viable in the future, or will people only defend it because they receive a little unemployment benefit during the closed season?
A lesson in net fishing: Although "Neu's" kidney disease has worsened, ( see trailer) he can still pull himself up to share some old knowledge for the purpose of self-sufficient fishing with his son Luan. ,Even though the bilingual Luan wants to live in Prainha, he doesn't want to be a fisherman:
How does an Englishwoman live in Prainha do Canto Verde?
The story of Claire & Neu
Claire, a Londoner, is married to the fisherman Arineu, called "Neu", from Prainha. She is a teacher, local photographer, has lived in Prainha for two decades and used to fish often with her husband on his Jangada in the open sea. Then his kidneys failed, he could no longer handle his job and had to sell the Jangada. Claire worked actively in the local "advisory board" of the state control of "RESEX" to preserve the village till shortly before the pandemic. Then it became one more time too dangerous for her as a „foreign outsider" .
Entire film in English:
At the beginning of the century, lobsters were the main income, but disappeared according to Claire's husband "Neu“, despite the measures taken more than a decade ago, (Video)
According to him, many professional fishermen nowadays fish even in the permitted season only one or two days a week out on the ocean, because of the lack of lobsters.
"RESEX" rules impose a 6-month closed season during which they are not allowed to catch spiny lobsters. Theoretically, they cannot engage in professional fishing on the high seas with jangadas during this period either. As a compensation, they receive unemployment benefits. For subsistence, they often bridge the shortfall with net fishing in the shallow sea.
According to this fisherman, if you create a barrier several metres wide in the shallow sea, you can catch up to 30 fish during the spiny lobster closed season in good conditions.
Floating empty plastic bottles keep the net on the surface, while PET bottles filled with sand fix it to the seabed.
What has happened in the marine reserve
since the "RESEX" was founded in 2009?
As in the case of the problematic sale of land, the protection measures established for the marine reserve were also not respected in 2022. Nevertheless, they do not affect the community as a whole anymore, because they mainly live from tourism now. Nowadays, it is also questioned why a marine protected area in Prainha still serves any valid purpose. Under Bolsonaro's right-wing regime, the budgets of the Ministry of the Environment and its control bodies were practically cut to zero even before the pandemic. The monitoring by the state control organisations "Chico Mendes" & "ICMBio", which are responsible for the "RESEX", was also affected and came to a complete standstill during the pandemic.
Although they are legally obliged to provide comprehensive information, the last entry by the "Instituto Chico Mendes" on the state homepage about the situation in Prainha do Canto Verde was in 2017:
Of all the people the new counter-residents' association, which wants to dissolve "RESEX", filed a complain about the inadequate control of biodiversity in the marine reserve. They blame the fishing community, that there are more and more dolphins and sea turtles washed ashore and caught in fishing nets.
© Claire Pattison- Valente
After that, there was no more news on the state information website. Regular updates are again planned for 2023 after the Lula government has reorganised the control bodies.
In a "RESEX", fishermen are actually obliged to respect protected marine animals. Unfortunately, they often get caught in the trawls of large external fishing vessels, cannot free themselves and are then washed ashore dead or injured.
Food security has always been a top priority among fishermen; they share the catch.
Langoustines(Lobsters?) were reserved for sale.
What was left of the lobster colonies along the coast in north-eastern Brazil until a decade ago either migrated due to the warming of the ocean to colder water zones or was plucked from the seabed by lobster pirates with diving equipment. Under the Bolsonaro government, the pirate boats were no longer subject to systematic control and prosecution by the Ministry of the Environment and were largely given free rein.
The Prainhans, who no longer fish in large quantities, no longer see this as their main problem.
Over the years, some fisheries projects have petered out
For decades, NGOs and scientists have shown and financed alternatives to traditonal fishing for local fishermen. But only a few years after the studies or projects were finished and handed over to them, the whole thing usually fell apart.
Additionally, the local Jangada regattas, a popular competition among fishermen for the best sailing techniques, were stopped during the pandemic and have not resumed since.
This is how the fish tank looks today. The idea of small-scale fish farming at home remained a pure fantasy. At the time it was too foreign for the fishermen, as long as they could still feed themselves from the sea.
A shipbuilding school for catamarans was organised by Réne Schärer in 2002, financed with NGO funds. Catamarans are faster and less labour intensive, but were then already 6 times more expensive than a traditional Jangada:
Then the shipbuilding teacher died and the project fell apart. What of knowledge transfer remained: the fishermen learned to build according to plans and became good carpenters. Today, two half-ruined model catamarans are still parked on the beach.
Some of these failed projects were also way ahead of their time; environmental protection at the turn of the century was something for scientists and specifically interested people with enough foresight: traditional fishermen at that time were mostly overwhelmed by alternative ideas.
The newly activated global awareness of resource conservation spilled over via the Amazon into other parts of Brazil; these projects would have a far better chance of surviving today.