Tell Brazil to go for the gold and be a champion for the Guiana dolphin!

  • by: Sea Shepherd Legal
  • recipient: Brazilian government: Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources; State Institute of the Environment; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Federal Police – Ministry of Justice, Rio de Janeiro Port Authority

Pressured by large companies that reduce their space in the sea, trapped in commercial fishing net and drowned, poisoned by pollution, deafened by shipping noise, the Guiana dolphin is in a losing battle and quickly headed for extinction.

Featured on the city’s flag cradling Rio’s coat of arms, the Guiana dolphin -- or “boto-cinza” in Portuguese –-is the symbol of Rio de Janeiro. We are working with federal prosecutors in Brazil to make sure this species remains more than just an image on a flag.

Nearly 10 Guiana dolphins are killed every month in fishing nets in the Bay of Sepetiba in Rio. With fewer than 800 individuals remaining, this critical population will be lost in a few short years unless the government acts NOW.

With the Olympics bringing all eyes to Rio, the government of Brazil is on the international hot seat - highly criticized for not cleaning up its waterways and for not building a safe venue for Olympic athletes. Brazil can save face and protect the Guiana Dolphin while the world is watching.

Add your name to our petition and tell Brazil’s officials that all eyes are on them – to take action now.

This is Brazil’s chance to prove that it can remain a respected player on the world stage.

Dear agency officials,

I am writing to urge you to take the steps enumerated below to protect the remaining population of Guiana dolphins in Rio de Janiero. Rio’s dolphin population is the key source population for the Guiana dolphin species as a whole. If you do not act now, the species will become extinct.

There is a reason why Guiana dolphins are featured on Rio’s flag, securing its coat of arms. It is because these dolphins are regal and strong, much like Brazil has been throughout its history.

But Guiana dolphins face significant hurdles to survive and maintain a viable presence, at a time when Rio should be celebrating its vibrant heritage during the Olympics.

Since 2003, Rio’s Guiana dolphin numbers have dropped by an alarming 40%. Nearly 10 Guiana dolphins are killed every month in fishing nets in the Bay of Sepetiba, in Rio. With less than 800 remaining, this population will be gone in a few short years.

In addition to incidental capture by commercial fishermen, the decline is caused by pollution, overfishing of the dolphin’s prey species, decreased habitat, increased ship traffic, port development, and other industrial and urban development in coastal areas.

Your agencies carry the responsibility to address these threats. Together with Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors office, I urge you to take the following actions that fall within your respective jurisdictions:

(1) Create a coalition police force to monitor and respond to illegal and excessive fishing, with mandatory patrols in Sepetiba Bay every week;

(2) Prepare a technical study by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources to verify the need for changes in fishing practices and regulations in the Sepetiba Bay/Ilha Grande region;

(3) Form a new group under the auspices of the State Institute of the Environment for the purpose of reassessing mitigation measures to improve conditions for conservation.  To add credibility to this group, the federal prosecutors have requested the participation of the Instituto Boto Cinza;

(4) Draft a new plan by the State Institute of the Environment to promote community-based tourism as an alternative source of income for local fishermen;

(5) Immediately cease any additional licensing by the State Institute of the Environment that could cause harm to the dolphins and their habitat, pending additional scientific study; and

(6) Prohibit, by the port authority in Rio de Janeiro, the anchoring of vessels in the dolphins’ favored areas of concentration.

I understand that Brazil faces many struggles. With recent unfavorable international news reports about its leadership, and criticisms about its preparations for the Olympics, Brazil –- particularly Rio –- is in the world spotlight. Brazil’s actions (and inactions) are being scrutinized.

The actions we urge you to take above would not only save the Guiana dolphin from extinction –- it would also change the public sentiment about Brazil, and ensure that Brazil remains a respected player on the world stage.

The international community is watching in horror as Mexico’s vaquita porpoise edges closer to extinction due to unscrupulous fishing practices and prior government inaction. The government of Mexico has now stepped in to save the vaquita, but it is likely too little, too late. Do not let that be your legacy too.

Please take action now to protect the Guiana dolphin.

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