New Impulse for Fisheries in Rio
The fisheries industry in Rio de Janeiro particularly and in Brazil in general, has historically received few investments from the government or the private sector. In reality, even fisheries monitoring, regulations and inspections are lax, at best. Many species have become basically extinct, such as the large lobster.
This many soon begin to change. Recently the environmental secretary for Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Minc, announced that investments in fisheries and aquaculture will be included as part of the demands for local environmental licensing. This will be mostly directed to industrial environmental licensing in the north part of Rio but will eventually be an integral demand in all environmental licensing procedures along the coast of Rio.
Today the major environmental licensing processes have to do with the new ports being built, new refineries for O&G products, O&G exploration and production infrastructure, thermo-electric plants, steel mills and new shipyards, as these are the main industries located along the coast.
For many years fishermen have been complaining about the effects of many of these industries on the quantity and quality of fish, and also on the increase of pollutants in the ocean. At the same time environmentalists have been hollering about the environmental impact of these industries on coastal environments, coastal communities and in the ocean. Little has been done about these problems and most unfortunately the most visible result is an increase in corruption, where licenses are approved through schemes involving high ranking environmental inspectors receiving personal advantages, to put it lightly.
Mr. Minc has gone a long way in deterring such despicable practices, but we would have to be completely naive to believe that the corruption problem has been totally extinguished. It is however important to have someone totally committed to the environment and widely respected as is Carlos Minc leading the state environmental agency as there is so much money involved and such an aggressive lobbying by the industries, that a lesser person could easily cave in to greed.
It is of major importance to include investments in fisheries and aquaculture in the environmental licensing process as this will be a guarantee that funds will be immediately available for projects in these areas and not just have funds promised that are stuck for ages in the mounting Brazilian state bureaucracies. These investments will also be needed for modern research on fishery related matters, where AUV´s and subsea sonar arrays could be used to monitor fishery activities and the fish and crustaceans, in order to have a updated view of the true state of the fishery industry and of the environment it affects.
The technology is here, the funds will be available and there are a number of state universities that could be involved, instead of simply making it another task for the already undermanned state environmental licensing agency (INEA) or even IBAMA, which is a federal environmental agency and is also undermanned.
With the amount of new industries popping up along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, this new demand on fisheries and aquaculture investments by local and foreign players is definitely necessary, the question is, will it be enough to change the current situation of neglect faced by fishermen and the ocean environment that sustains them?