Sea Shepherd Brazil Drags Fishing Company into Court

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, May 31, 2001 (ENS) - For the first time in Brazil’s history, a non-governmental organization is taking a fishing company to court to collect damages on behalf of the fish and the marine environment.

The Brazilian branch of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is taking legal action against the Brazilian fishing company Pescado Amaral, suing for damages it claims at US$100,000.

Instituto Sea Shepherd Brazil (ISSB) volunteers caught a vessel owned by Pescado Amaral last August in the act of what it claims was "predatory illegal drag trawling" off the coast of Rio Grande do Sul, near Tramandai.


Sea Shepherd Brazil confronts the Pescado Amaral trawler. (Photo by Juliana Marques courtesy ISSB)
Pescado Amaral was caught in the act by ISSB, working with the Rio Grande do Sul Coast Guard on August 18.

With the aid of volunteers from ISSB who stained the vessel with orange dye for easier detection, the Coast Guard of Rio Grande do Sol was able to determine the exact location of Pescado Amaral´s illegal fishing activities using a Geographic Positioning System.

Cristiano Pacheco, legal advisor for Sea Shepherd Brazil, said, "We believe that the environmental evidence regarding the operation as well as the additional film footage of their vessel caught in the act of illegal predatory fishing is more than enough proof to convict the company."

Sea Shepherd Brazil aims to stop fishing companies from illegal drag trawling, which is prohibited within three miles of the nation’s coast.

Industrial drag trawling has become an acute problem in the last few years in shallow coastal waters worldwide, says Sea Shepherd Brazil. Heavy nets are dragged across the ocean floor, resulting in the destruction of the marine environment and reduction of biodiversity.

"Illegal small mesh nets allow nothing to escape, causing further damage ruin the sea´s biodiversity," the group says.

Once the draggers are finished, the local fishermen are left with a barren undersea desert. "With those nets they catch everything, take what they want, and what they leave behind is worthless and of no use to anyone," said fisherman Márcio Ezequiel de Sousa of Tramandai.