Pollution and Lack of Equipment Threaten Artisanal Fishers in the Metropolitan Region of Recife

Artisanal fishers in the metropolitan region of Recife and in neighboring rural areas face an uphill battle against pollution and a shortage of safety equipment, as evidenced by recent research conducted by the TAPIOCA group, in collaboration with fishers from Rio Formoso and Ilha de Deus.During meetings and interviews with fishers from these two regions, the risks of the profession were highlighted.The Capibaribe River and the Rio Formoso estuary, which were once an important source of livelihood for these workers, have now also become hostile environments due to chemical contamination and the accumulation of solid waste.

Pollution, both from local industries and from the inappropriate disposal of litter by the population, has caused irreparable damage not only to the river, but also to the health of fishermen and their families. Fragments of plastic, metal and glass, often mixed in with the fish, represent a constant danger, causing serious injuries and even putting the lives of these workers at risk.

Wastes found in shellfish collected after processing. Photo – LMI Tapioca Team

In addition, the lack of personal protective equipment makes the situation even worse. The fishing activity, which is already carried out in an artisanal and risky way, exposes fishers to a series of risks, from deep cuts to contact with toxic substances present in the environment. The lack of basic items, such as sunscreen, repellent, a thermal shirt with UV protection, a hat and boots, makes them vulnerable to various diseases and accidents, including skin cancer and infections.

In addition to the challenges posed by pollution and the lack of safety equipment, fishers also face the loss of fishing grounds due to conflicts with companies that occupy these strategic regions. This reality forces fishers to move to more distant areas, making it even more difficult to practice an activity that already faces so many adversities. Faced with this worrying scenario, there is an urgent need to implement effective measures to combat pollution and guarantee the safety and well-being of artisanal fishers in the Recife metropolitan region. The preservation of the Capibaribe River and Rio Formoso estuary for the workers who depend on it are fundamental to guaranteeing a sustainable future for all.

Latifa Pelage, Anne Justino & Cristiano Lopes. Pollution and Lack of Equipment Threaten Artisanal Fishers in the Metropolitan Region of Recife. Portal Caranguejo Antenado, 2024. Available at: https://caranguejoantenado.org.br/poluicao-e-falta-de-equipamentos-ameacam-pescadores-artesanais-na-regiao-metropolitana-do-recife/