Flashback to 25 years of struggle for a land and sea reserve
at the fishing village of Prainha do Canto Verde
Already for decades, local fishermen have been telling the international press and the scientific community about their struggle for the marine protected area established in 2009 – and have been telling me also.
At the time, Prainha was considered worldwide as a model village due to the development of local, environmentally friendly tourism.
Ultimately, the existence of their village was at stake, as it is located in the middle of a 570km long coastline with endless sandy beaches, dunes and steep coastal cliffs.
Back then, the Prainhans still earned part of their subsistence by fishing for lobsters on small flat traditional sailing boats called Jangadas. For 50 years they have tried to fend off the attack of the “lobster pirates and land-grabbing sharks”, but are literally losing more and more lobsters and land. The fishermen have had, and still have influential enemies who threaten the survival of the village’s marine and land conservation area, the so-called RESEX, and they even split the community.
Decades ago I also met co-author Sandra Weiss in Prainha for the first time. She was reporting for many newspapers about the main topics of the time: “local tourism” and “lobster pirates”. For more than two decades I also spent several months a year in Prainha, observing and reporting on the village for various TV stations and film festivals.
Together we have followed the progress of RESEX since its founding, as well as the problems surrounding it over the years.
Lindomar, one of our old acquaintances and interview partners, is adamant that today, in 2002, the locals no longer want to talk to journalists and academics, especially not to the “old European guard”. Although the latter possesses a great deal of prior local knowledge, classifying the condition of the village today as “poorer”, it is now accused of a kind of “white-nosed colonialism”. And perhaps not unjustly? What was considered progressive and environmentally friendly then has become outdated today. Lindomar forgets that for 30 years the village received considerable support from the European press, academia and NGOs, which led not least to the founding of RESEX. Some of the knowledge transfer has been retained, some has not.
The people of Prainha are tired of the interviews and of being considered the role model. The have grown independent!
“Only someone who lives here can judge as to how well the situation is regarding the land and the ocean, the quality of life,” says Lindomar.
True. But the sense of community has also been lost. Instead, egoism, envy have spread in Prainha.
Especially under President Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2023) the fear of local political right-wing cronies spread. Fear of local political right-wing cronies has long dominated the village talk in Prainha. This poisoned the village climate. oung people are less interested in the protected area, some - including fishermen - have become drug addicts. Even under the new-old president “Lula” da Silva, the prospects of success for the preservation of RESEX in Prainha are unfortunately not exactly rosy. The future of the RESEX is uncertain.
Not just from a European perspective:
In Prainha do Canto Verde, the crisis area has been shifted from the sea to the land issue.