Coastal Monitoring, Preservation and Research Investments in Brazil
As huge investments are made in Brazil to develop the country`s O&G potential, actions targeting preservation of coastal and underwater ecosystems along the Brazilian coast are still lacking. With the Brazilian coast being 7,491 km long, it is even understandable that the Brazilian government, Petrobras and environmental agencies, find it difficult to expand coastal preservation projects to include the whole coast including the thousands of coastal islands. Petrobras has been making important investments in preservation of coastal and underwater ecosystem along the Brazilian coast, sponsoring far reaching projects in various areas, such as preservation of coastal flora and fauna, fisheries management and environmental education programs for coastal communities.
The impact of uncontrolled and illegal fishing practices has become a serious problem along the Brazilian coast. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, there are proven cases of local fishermen using explosives offshore, and the Lobster colonies in Rio have long been exterminated.
The Brazilian Navy has the mandate to patrol the coastal waters but do not yet have a mandate to arrest or the necessary patrol assets to make a difference. The Brazilian Navy has an ambitious shipbuilding program, which includes a respectable number of coastal and inland waterway patrol craft but these mostly consist of traditional vessels.
There is not much apparent planning towards the use of high end subsea technology, such as advanced sonar capabilities and sonar imagery software, along with AUVs for mapping and filming of the thousands of U/W rock formations and reefs along the coast. What may tip the balance in favor of employing cutting edge subsea tech, is the strong influx of leading subsea system and equipment companies from the U.S, France and the U.K to Brazil, many of these companies also cater to the military, or let´s say, defense market. That should do the trick to get the top military echelons interested, as the final decision as to what happens along the Brazilian coast ultimately rests on theirs and the Brazilian government´s shoulders.
There needs to be a serious management plan towards monitoring what goes on along the Brazilian coast, inland and offshore, on the surface, and underwater, including shallow and deep waters. To the best of my knowledge such a plan does not exist, if it does it is kept a secret by the government. Which makes me wonder why? It is a something that needs to be addressed, and needs to be transparent. As we are, there are hundreds of different coastal environmental projects, with little or no central management or control. As the level of environmental awareness increases among the Brazilian population, it is hoped that the pressure on the government and the military will force an increase in investments targeting coastal monitoring and preservation in Brazil.