President Jair Bolsonaro celebrated the approval to fish sardines in the area of the Fernando de Noronha National Marine Park, a flexibilisation made by the federal government that affects environmentalists and is rejected by the government of Pernambuco.
Authorization for the activity comes from an agreement signed between ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity) and local fishermen. Minister Ricardo Salles (Environment) signed the document on Friday (30) in a law held on the island.
The approval of the activity was also celebrated by the Secretary for Aquaculture and Fisheries, Jorge Seif, who described opponents of the activity as “eco-Shiites” and “widows of the fishing task” on social networks.
Seif and Salles traveled to the archipelago with other Bolsonaro government agencies including Ministers Milton Ribeiro (Education) and Marcelo Álvaro Antônio (Tourism) and Embratur President Gilson Machado.
Bolsonaro posted a video this Sunday (1st) of Seif at a meeting on the island about the signing of the term of office.
“Incredible, but in Fernando de Noronha it was forbidden to fish for sardines. Right, the islanders imported fish from the mainland. We congratulate the Fisheries Secretary Jorge Seif, ”wrote the President.
The government has not yet released any official information on the scope of the permit.
Interlocutors however told Folha that the permit is for traditional fishermen and that there will be controlled times and locations for the activity. The permit must be valid for November and April.
The sardine in Fernando de Noronha is used as a bait for deep sea fishing.
Local experts suggest that most of the demand for fish in the archipelago is for tourism, not the local population.
The Minister for Environment and Sustainability of Pernambuco, José Antônio Bertotti, complained that the state had not been consulted about this measure and that it was endangering the park.
“There is no technical assistance to clear fishing in the National Marine Park, even if doing so violates an ICMBio resolution itself. This endangers the park,” he said.
“The park’s ecosystem is a nursery for species and there is no way to stop fishing for any species other than sardines,” he said.
Fishing in the park, which is 70% of the area of Fernando de Noronha, is prohibited due to the risk of environmental impact.
Artisanal fishermen have already been able to carry out their activities in the rest of the archipelago, but during the hangover period the fish are concentrated in the region of the park.
Although there is disagreement among experts about the ecosystem impact of a controlled release only for sardines, officials from the environmental agencies consulted by Folha feared that the measure would be a first step in expanding activities in the archipelago – which would have greater implications for the balance ecologically.
Another concern is that non-artisanal fishermen may use the permit to carry out the activity for commercial purposes.
In addition to the ministers’ delegation, the President’s eldest son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ), also traveled to the island during the holidays.
He applied to the Federal Senate for reimbursement of airfares that add up to more than R $ 1,500. However, his advisor later stated that the application contained an error. According to the senator, the request for reimbursement is on hold.
Permitting sardines to fish is not the first action by the Bolsonaro government against Fernando de Noronha to spark controversy.
During a meeting with Pernambuco’s Deputy Governor Luciana Santos (PCdoB) in 2019, Salles defended the clearance of night flights to Noronha.
Night air frequencies affect the habits of some species of birds that live in the archipelago.
President Bolsonaro himself has already stated that the marine park visit fee was a theft and needed revision. In November last year, however, the federal government adjusted the figures and made them more expensive.