Brazil lobster fishery in collapse

Artisanal fishers go on strike  and ask government to close the fishery until 2014

For the last 70 years spiny rock lobsters were an important export product for Brazil mainly destined to the US Market. But, the fishing activity it is now close to collapse. Illegal fishers  have taken over with 2.000 boats fishing either without licenses or using illegal fishing gear such as gillnets and compressor diving. 580 boats of which 500 sailboats called jangadas using lobster traps have stopped fishing and see no future for their activity. Exports will drop from 2.500 tons of tails in 2010 to less then 1.000 this year. If stocks don´t recover 10.000 fishers might be out of a job in 2013.

The available data indicates that stocks are in danger due to years of overfishing and predatory fishing over the last 20 years which has gone largely uncontrolled due to poor management and enforcement. Scientific data doesn´t allow any prediction when the resource will face  the point of no return, so everybody thinks about what happened to the cod fishery in Canada 20 years ago, and prays. In 1992 30.000 fishworkers lost their job and the stocks still have not recovered.

On October 30st fishers will register a letter to President Dilma Roussef in Brasilia asking her to close the lobster fishery until at least April 31st , 2014 in order to give the government and fishing sector time to revise fisheries management, invest in research and data collection and set up an enforcement system that works.  In short fix everything that is broken. The 18 month cooling off period will give the lobster population a chance to recover a little bit from decades of excessive fishing pressure and to start to reproduce in relative peace. The fishers will present a 10 page proposal for management changes which includes the participation of fishers in management decisions and the certification of lobsters from responsible artisanal fisheries.

The next day over 500 fishers and fisherwomen will converge on the Fortaleza the  capital of Ceará and will announce a strike of unlimited time against the fishery and  present their demands in public and to the media. From there they will march to the naval headquarters and will ask the Navy to intervene in what has become known as the Lobster War.

Meanwhile at home sons and daughters who decided not to become fishers will activate facebook, tweeters and their e-mails to make sure the word gets around. Organizers of the protest will launch a worldwide campaign aimed at consumers.

ICSF Member René Schärer,


Signed by: Campaign of Fishers and small Boat Owners from the Coast of Ceará in Support of Responsible and, Sustainable Fishing.


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