New study points to overfishing in fish stocks in Brazil | WWF Brasil

New study points to overfishing in fish stocks in Brazil

02 Abril 2019    
Bigeye trevally or Bigeye jack (Caranx sexfasciatus) congregate in schools for safety from attack by predators such as sharks.
© Cat Holloway
▪ Overfishing and lack of fishery management are the main factors contributing to the reduction of stocks. If nothing changes, in the long run, the uncontrolled exploitation of some species may lead to the collapse of fishing activity;

▪ Fishermen need to navigate ever greater distances to find economically viable stocks of exploitation. In addition to increasing the final product, this confirms that the stocks closest to the coast are already overfished;

▪ 58% of the fish evaluated by WWF-Brazil are in the red category, not recommended for consumption, and only 28% of the evaluated species have alternatives with certification;

▪ Consumers do not have information about the origin and quality of what they are eating;

▪ Traceability and sustainability seals are part of the solution, but depend on collective initiatives and public power.

Produced by WWF-Brazil, the Seafood Guide Brazil evaluated 38 species of fish. In addition to bringing species assessments, which are indicated for consumption and which should be avoided, the study also provides data on the status of fish stocks, information on the types of fish production (fishing and aquaculture) and their environment. The purpose of the Guide is to inform and clarify the population about the status of the fish consumed in the country, as well as to present ways of engaging in responsible fish consumption.

The study points out that the main factor of degradation is overfishing, when fish stocks are exploited beyond their natural reproductive capacity. The document reveals that, if there is no change in the weak fisheries management system, in the long term the commercial exploitation of some species may become economically unviable and may impact the food chain and cause a cascading effect on the environment and activity to collapse.

The assessment of fish species is based on three pillars: target stock, ecological effects of fishing activity, and quality of management. For aquaculture, the sustainable use of resources (such as water, electricity and feed), ecosystem interactions and impacts, and the quality of management are taken into account.

According to the survey, of the 38 species evaluated, 58% (22) are in the red category, for example, Pink Shrimp and Blue Shark (Cação). In the yellow category are 21% (8), among them Tilapia and Bonito-striped. Another 21% (8) were evaluated in the green category, for example, Pink Salmon and some mollusks.

Among the species caught in the nature recommended for consumption, of the green category, none is of national production, which reflects the need to improve the management of Brazilian fish. On the other hand, in aquaculture, Brazil has four species cultivated in the green category, which are Mexilhão, Ostra-do-Pacífico, Ostra-do-Mangue and Vieira.

Another fact is that, of the main species consumed in Brazil and evaluated by WWF-Brazil, only 28% have the option of products with certification regarding the sustainability of fishing or cultivation.

According to the manager of the WWF-Brazil Marine Program, Anna Carolina Lobo, the Brazilian consumer public is lacking information on the fish that it consumes. "We have little or no data on national production. Thus, fish consumers do not have the information they need to understand how they are fishing in Brazil and how to act to contribute to the search for a more balanced fishery production system that at the same time meets the need for food production and respects the limits from nature. This Responsible Consumption Guide presents information on how fish stocks are at critical levels, recommendations to guide the consumption of some species, and which fishing techniques should be preferred because they are less aggressive to the ecosystem", says Lobo.
Bigeye trevally or Bigeye jack (Caranx sexfasciatus) congregate in schools for safety from attack by predators such as sharks.
© Cat Holloway Enlarge
Cover of Seafood Guide Brazil
© WWF Enlarge