In 2009 the Prainha do Canto Verde was declared a land and marine extractive reserve or RESEX (Reserva Extrativista )

All land declared as a RESEX reserve is now owned by the state, and is subject to strict environmental, retailing, building and administrative requirements.

Starting in 2012, the international community, within the framework of the UN, had planned under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to declare ten percent of the world's total sea surface a Marine Protected Area. All geographically and biologically significant habitats and species were to be protected by way of example. The administration of these protected areas would be organised under legal global directives, and be subject to community-based management with state control. At present, this goal is still a long way off.

The reason for this is strong economic opposition from industrial fishing interests and, above all, the lack of legal enforcement mechanisms. States only have the legal power to protect an area covering up to 200 miles from the coast - the so-called Exclusive Economic Zone. Beyond that, the high seas begin. On it, all countries have the right to free navigation, free fishing, the freedom to research, and to conduct military exercises in peacetime.

In Brazil, the 1990s saw the start of the joint management of important natural resources by the state and its users. The first RESEX was established in 1990 in Amazonia, thanks to the international mobilisation of Chico Mendes, who represented rubber workers in the state of Acre. However, he was murdered by major landowners before it came into force.


At that time, in Prainha do Canto Verde, residents commenced a court action against a corrupt oligarch, Tales de Sé Cavalcante, who had built an illegal luxury villa on the beach at the edge of the village and had acquired a land title over half of the village. However, the mills of the justice system grind slowly. It was not until 2009 that the residents were granted, by presidential decree, the right to the use of 610 hectares of land and waters off the coast. This is how the RESEX of Prainha do Canto Verde was created. The local community took over the management of the reserve under state supervision. This includes responsibility for: the allocation of land to inhabitants for house building; and for the supervision and protection of RESEX.

In Prainha do Cante Verde, the RESEX was 2009 approved by the then President Lula, but....

An excerpt from the documentary "He won her with fish"  2016

In a RESEX, fishermen are also obliged to respect protected marine animals.  


Prainha do Canto Verde, therefore, has environmental officers who take care, for example, of beached sea turtles and dolphins.


Unfortunately, turtles and dolphins are often caught in the nets of large fishing boats. Since they cannot free themselves, they are then washed-up dead on the beach.

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© Claire Pattison- Valente


© Claire Pattison- Valente

However, community control alone, over the RESEX, will not protect Prainha do Canto Verde from natural hazards - neither from climate change, regular climate phenomena such as an ‘El Niño’, acidification of lakes, nor from rising water temperatures and sea levels. The rising water temperatures are likely to cause lobster and fish stocks to decline. In addition, many houses, built on the beach, are at risk of having to be abandoned or being washed away.

Another environmental problem is wind farms, which stretch along the entire coast of Ceará. The construction of these wind farms, a large-scale scam hatched by corrupt state officials with private companies, enabled access to cheap loans. Many of the wind farms were built without an environmental impact assessment and are still not even connected to the grid. In the vicinity of Prainha do Canto Verde, the wind turbines were set in concrete in the middle of the dunes.


The giant turbines’ concrete foundations accelerate the movement of the shifting dunes. As a result, part of Prainha do Canto Verde is in danger of being engulfed by shifting dunes.

Tales de Sé Cavalcante still undermines the purpose of the reserve. He financed a second civic association in order to loosen the protection status. His intention was to force through his real estate projects or to ensure as high compensation as possible for his illegal villa. Cavalcante is considered an influential businessman in Fortaleza. He owns a training centre that prepares young people from public schools for a university career. He belongs to the long-established elite of the state, with influence in politics and justice. Many local residents are panic-stricken and do not even dare to utter his name in public.

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An excerpt from the documentary "He won her with fish"  2016