Brazil to share vessel-tracking data with Global Fishing Watch

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) has signed an agreement with Brazil to publish its vessel-tracking data.

Brazil is the sixth Latin American nation to sign a data-sharing agreement with GFW, a partnership between Google and the advocacy groups Oceana and SkyTruth, joining Peru, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

“This movement is quite symbolic of the transformative effort that actual mandate is putting aiming better management of fishery resources,” Brazil Aquaculrure and Fisheries Secretariat  Director Cadu Villaça told SeafoodSource.

Tracks of Brazil’s commercial fishing vessels can now be viewed by anyone, in real-time, for free on GFW’s mapping platform, according to the organization.

“Brazil’s decision to adopt fisheries transparency demonstrates a shared ambition to enhance their current vessel monitoring system and strengthen compliance in their waters,” GFW CEO Tony Long said in a press release. “The secretary of fisheries and aquaculture will now have the information needed to ensure sound fisheries management and promote the sustainability of Brazil’s fish stocks for generations to come.”

Brazilian Secretary of Aquaculture and Fisheries Jorge Seif said the move will help promote transparency across the country’s fisheries.

“We are very optimistic about this partnership and excited to be moving in a direction that is aligned with the global trend in improving fisheries management,” Seif said. “Fisheries are a multibillion-dollar activity and must be well-monitored and -managed, based on principles of sustainability. We continue to invest efforts in developing interagency and institutional cooperation to leverage our capacity in delivering good results for fisheries resources, which allow fishers to thrive.”

The move comes a week after the launch of the Open Tuna initiative, which placed the logbook and tracking data from Brazil’s tuna fleet on the Open Tuna website, which was developed with technical support from Oceana and GFW. The initiative was supported by the Atlantic Alliance for Sustainable Tuna and includes partnerships with the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco and the non-governmental organizations Project Albatroz and Project Tamar.

Despite a requirement that Brazil annually send data on their tuna fishing, including their fishing effort and catch total, to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – which regulates the region’s tuna fishery – the country has not submitted its statistics since 2011 due to the complication of transferring and compiling handwritten data into digital formats, according to Bruno Mourato, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo and Brazil's statistical correspondent at ICCAT.

“Without a national fisheries statistics program, including an onboard observer program, and with a lot of data still being delivered by fishers on paper forms, the compilation of the statistical data to be contributed by Brazil to ICCAT is exceptionally time-consuming,” Mourato said. “Sending data to ICCAT would be much easier if we had a system for reporting information on a digital system.”

Open Tuna will create a collated, digitized storeroom of data on Brazil’s coastal catch of bigeye, albacore, and yellowfin tuna, as well as swordfish. It will also collect bycatch information and allow filtered searches of the logbooks of the entire Brazilian longline fleet.

“This is a pilot initiative, but Open Tuna innovates by creating a reference model, which should be adopted for the entire Brazilian fleet,” Oceana Scientific Director Martin Dias said. “Transparency in fisheries information will help the work of researchers and the government itself, thus contributing to consolidate a more transparent and sustainable supply chain, with high-quality seafood and total traceability of production.”

According to Tuna Alliance Co-Founder Rodrigo Hazin, fishing companies have agreed to participate in the project in order to help create a distinction in the market for their products.

“Fishermen who operate legally and respectfully will be tracked in an easy and clear way, showing their compliance with the law,” Hazin said. “As a result, clandestine operators will face increasingly serious difficulties and might be identified on Global Fishing Watch for their history of irregularity or suspicious behavior.”

Global Fishing Watch Program Development Director Margot Stiles said the project represents a model that can be replicated around the globe.

“The Open Tuna project is leading the way in transparency for one of the world’s most-popular seafoods, in a market where the lack of transparency in distant water fleets sometimes conceals signs of illegal or substandard fishing practices. We hope that more companies and governments will follow the example set by Brazil’s private sector,” Stiles said.

Photo courtesy of Cacio Murilo/Shutterstock


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