The expansion of large-scale industries within fishing territories and the ecological deterioration of the water have triggered heated disputes between enterprises, fishing communities, and the state (Camargo 2014). This study reveals an estimate of the fishing territories formerly available to the seabob-shrimp fisheries that have been reduced as a result of access restrictions due to several distinct reasons beyond conservation. It also reveals a not often recognized state role that imposes restrictions on the small-scale fisheries sector but seems to offer no counterpart of any kind whatsover for the directly or indirectly decrease in income. The analysis has been limited to the territorial aspect, i.e. the formal area-restrictions imposed on fishing itself. Thus, if environmental health problems that also generate economic losses for fishing communities such as the quality of seawater and seabed (CETESB 2005) are taken into account, the potential impact on fishing territories (or other marine ecosystem service) can be much larger.
Human activities in natural systems that shares common resources (i.e. common pool resources or CPRs) often face two key dilemmas: (a) the ‘exclusion problem’ (i.e. the exclusion of potential users or the control of access is difficult), and (b) the ‘subtractability problem’, (i.e. each user is capable of subtracting from the welfare of all the others) (Feeny et al. 1990, Ostrom 1990). In Brazil, the sea and its resources are public assets regulated by the Federal government (Federal Constitution 1988, Art.20). The right to fish is often shared among users divided into different sectors according to licensing criteria defined by national agencies. Access to a fishing area, however, depends on other sea-based activities. The multiple activities that make use of marine areas can be divided into those that depend on the health of the ecosystem and those that are not related to ecological integrity. The former category includes the small-scale fisheries, aquaculture, and sports-related nautical activities as well as non-fishing activities such as community-based tourism, the small-scale hotel sector, agricultural activities, and restaurants serving sea products. The latter group includes several infrastructure projects that require and occupy the competing maritime space for “industrial logistics” such as ports, oil and gas, traffic, disposal of sewage/run-off, seabed extraction and materials dredged from harbors (Elliot 2013).
Among the several trade-offs in coastal management, we should highlight two important issues: 1) the limits of alterations that can be supported in such a way that the development of activities that rely on healthy marine ecosystems may be maintained and allowed; and 2) how far contemporary society can neglect a renewable-based economy (which, if well managed, can be sustained for an indefinite period of time) to the detriment of a market-oriented logic that compromises ecosystem services and depends on external factors and motivations far beyond local communities’ desires. These dilemmas are clearly observed in the case of the small-scale seabob shrimp fisheries in São Paulo. While both government and civil society make efforts to organize themselves to discuss which institutional arrangement might be best placed to address the tradeoffs abovementioned, the persistence of the invisibility of fishing territorial loss limits the accountability of the economic and environmental policies in generating additional costs for fishing communities, and therefore the development of new policies able to correct this burden.
The reduction of the fishing territories of the seabob shrimp fisheries in São Paulo over the last 50 years were identified as originating from two main factors: 1) the top-down environmental policies, including the creation of MPAs and regulations for other fisheries; and 2) the environmental concession process for the building of enterprise/corporations infrastructures within the coastal zone.
With regards to the former, the process for the foundation of both protected areas and fishing regulations in São Paulo involved very little community participation until 2008, and conflicts with fishing communities were widely reported (Diegues 1973, 1996). Selected participation has taken place since 2002, but only in the State’s coastal management zoning plan with the fisheries sector not being well represented. Some defense arguments were however eventually presented by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but they represented to less that 5 % of the management councils composition. The creation of the ‘Marine APA’ (a category of State-level MPA) is relatively recent (2008) which does not play a role in the regulation of the seabob-shrimp fishing but has potential for the development of participative mechanisms if well implemented. In some other developing countries, for example in Southern Pacific states, “locally-managed marine areas” have proven to result in a successful effort for spatial management based upon de facto communities’ participation and agreement (Govan, 2009).
With regard to the territorial losses for fishing due to enterprises and infrastructure, it should be noted that in Brazil an environmental impact assessment is required in order to approve an environmental license (CONAMA Resolution 01/86). However, increasing impact in coastal zones has been heavily criticized in recent decades since the growth of business and infrastructure has occurred faster than that of environmental legislation (Ab´Saber 2001). Although some assessments have attempted to evaluate the impact on fishing areas, in reality, fishing territories have been affected and reduced, and mitigation and compensation mechanisms have been worthless or weakly instituted with insufficient fishers’ participation.
This study reveals that the smaller the fishing boat, the more impact it will have felt from public policies (see section 2). This conclusion raises a serious issue concerning equity and social justice. Small-scale fishers have less fishing power as they cannot go beyond exclusion zones, resulting in higher vulnerability to the current regulations that have resulted in about 15 % of territorial loss. Such vulnerability may be seen as a drawback on sustainable development goals (SDGs) and human rights (SDSN 2015). Justice is an important condition for governability, increasing the overall capacity for governance of any societal entity or system (Kooiman 2008; Jentoft 2013). Under injustice, stakeholders are likely to revolt against government efforts to sustain the resource or promoting sustainable development (Jentoft 2013). This also reinforces the view that power and authority are central issues in the analysis.
Fisheries assessment overview: the seabob shrimp stock and its current management
In the study area, there are still controversies over the size of seabob-shrimp populations, as well as over spawning and recruitment seasons. The species is distributed over a wide geographical area and different research groups along Brazil’s coastline have reached different conclusions, somehow reflecting the nature of the species which seems to be biogeographically diverse. There is currently a closure season (March-May) in compliance with a legal norm (IBAMA, 2008) that covers the Southern region from Espírito Santo to Rio Grande do Sul States. However, this geographical area is considered excessively large and, according to genetic studies, it comprises more than one different stock/population (Gusmão et al. 2006, 2013; Franscisco 2009, Piergiorge et al. 2014). Moreover, the closure season was originally established rather to protect the pink-shrimp (Farfantepenaus paulensis, F. brasiliensis) from the estuaries to the ocean (D'Incao 1991). However, in São Paulo, pink-shrimp is less abundant in the estuaries and seabob shrimp’s dominates the coastal zone (Graça-Lopes et al. 1997). Therefore, the time frame currently stipulated by the legislation is also controversial since the current closing period was developed for another shrimp stock with different behavior and population patterns. In fact, Heckler et al. (2013) show the existence of two main periods of female maturation, suggesting that closure for the seabob-shrimp should be brought forward if protection of the spawning season is desired. In terms of the recruitment period, Severino Rodrigues et al. (1992) reported that recruitment of the seabob-shrimp starts as of the species’ 20th or 30th month of life and fishery catches contain a considerable amount of young individuals. Notably, adults and juveniles of the stock share areas of equal depth, and the high variability of recruits in the shallow water, resulting from meteo-oceanographic dynamics coupled with the larval survival period, seems to complicate recruitment estimates, while environmental variability might strongly affect stock abundance.
Souza et al. (2009b) report the fishers’ frustration towards the continuous changes in the regulations, and highlight the need for further extension work. There seems to be a feeling of betrayal within the sector, since the State creates regulations that are different to those agreed upon at numerous meetings with representatives. Although Azevedo (2013) reminds us that the review of the closure season was fullfilled as part of a participative process, the regulation (IBAMA 2008, IN 189/2008) did not seem to meet the wishes of either the fishers or the scientific sectors in terms of regionalizing and adjusting the closure to a more appropriate geographical scale. All these factors appear to contribute to an erosion and mistrust of the current fishing regulation process. Apart from the disputes, the management of this fishery seems to have remained static and dated, and is certainly in need of reform.
Despite all the problems, the seabob shrimp stock’s CPUE has remained reasonably stable over the last decade, suggesting that overfishing is not in place at least for the target species (Mendonça et al. 2013; Kolling and Avila-da-Silva 2014). A minimum revenue of R$3.00 per kilogram caught by the small-scale fleet was reported as an average in 2008 (Souza et al. 2009a). More recent economic assessments (2012–2014) showed a much higher price variation for the seabob shrimp, suggesting that under extreme conditions of small shrimp catches, the price may vary by up to 500 % during a single year (Gasalla et al. 2014b).
From the perspective of its gastronomic value, the seabob shrimp seems irreplaceable in several of Brazil’s most popular dishes. Even in low quantities (such as in 2014), it may acquire a special economic value. Such a substantial price increase would move the seabob shrimp from its traditional category as a “cheap shrimp” to the position of an “irreplaceable shrimp”. The gastronomic value and demand is no less important than the biological aspects since its new “status” may increase the small-scale fishers’ bargaining power - as an important asset - in the whole coastal management process. Despite the difficulties faced because of the value-chain with a low rate of revenue for the fishers and the lack of collective or public infrastructure (i.e. anchorage piers, refrigeration chambers, subsidized fuel, and small, locally-based shipyards), these fisheries are labor intensive in comparison to other coastal seasonal activities or those that rely on a constant turnover of personnel.
However, participatory approaches may still be considered as being very poor and inefficient. Recently, an oil accident in the Santos Harbor, leading to economic loss for fishers, revealed difficulties in estimating local fisheries yields within the impacted area, constraining fishers to negotiate compensation (Gandini, 2014). The process has been dragged into the courts, which could be avoided should communities have access to, and control of, fisheries information, which seems likely only through participative monitoring (FAO, 1998).
Considering the current fisheries scenario, we argue that community-based participatory monitoring and management could be potentially decisive in preventing the process of reduction of fishing territories that also seem important to seafood supply. In addition to this, we intend to highlight and explore two of the main developments related to the major factors identified by the territorial approach: (i) the territorial use rights for fisheries and a new way of handling fishing communities under coastal MPA regimes; and (ii) the legal innovation for conciliatory dialogue regarding the impacts felt from private enterprises.
Territorial use rights for fisheries and Marine Protected Areas
Notions of exclusive fishing territories at the local level have received much attention worldwide (e.g. Japan, France, New Zealand, and North and South America). The concept of territory as an area occupied more or less exclusively by an individual or group by means of repulsion through over-defense, or some form of communication, has been tested by ecological models. For example, several authors found correlation between ecological factors and the existence of fishing territories using cost-benefit models developed to analyze territoriality. Dyson-Hudson and Smith (1978), who employ an ecological model to discuss the existence of territories among hunters-gatherers and pastoralists, suggest that territories only exist where the costs involved in defending them are considerably less than the rewards. This fact should help to understand the (non-) territorial nature of fisheries in general.
However, an a priori recognition of the existence of fishing territories in certain situations would be a more efficient means of limiting fishing efforts (Kalland, 1999). With smaller territories people are in a better position to influence the resource base on which their future rests, whether the territories are formally recognized and supported by the state or not. Community-controlled territories enhance the efficiency of sanctions, not least because activities at sea cannot be isolated from those on land. Open access seems beneficial only to the more powerful fishers who, with large, efficient vessels, can fish one area after another, and fishing regulations have widely been more of a response to exclusive territories than to the ecological factors theselves (Kalland 1996, 1999).
Mainly because of this, governance over common goods and services has often been transferred from governments to civil society in several fishing area-based cases. For example, Kurien et al. (2006) reported the legal aspects and the social organization process of the aquarian reform (re-territorialization) that has been underway in Cambodia since the beginning of the last decade, as part of which state properties started being regulated locally, resulting in better community access and usufruct rights. In the South Pacific, both the network of “locally-managed marine areas” (LMMAs) in western island states (Govan, 2009), and territorial use rights for fisheries (TURFs) in Chile (Gelcich et al. 2012), have been encouraging fishers to increase their governance powers. Although TURFs cannot be seen as a panacea for solving all fisheries’ governance problems, (showing, as they do, constraints beyond the management of benthic resources - Aburto et al. 2014), the concept shows a potential for the context of seabob shrimp fisheries in São Paulo, especially under and within local MPAs.
In 2008, following a quite controversial process, the State of São Paulo created a continuum of three APAs where fishing is allowed (Dias and Máximo 2010). However, both the APAs and the coastal fisheries are still threatened by non-fishing impacts such as pollution, oil, sewage disposal, the construction of infrastructure and the effects of large scale tourism. Moreover, progress with respect to the fisheries in these areas has been dismal, even though fishers’ knowledge has been well-evidenced as being extremely useful for ecosystem-based fisheries management on the Northern coast (Leite and Gasalla 2013).
Overall, the major weakness in the coastal and fisheries management models found by the present analysis is that they mainly rely upon command-and-control mechanisms, with the adoption of static measures with limited mechanisms for adaptation or updating in the short-term. This has created a great deal of discomfort in the sector. The fishers’ distrust in the current bureaucratic management system (e.g. establishment of a closure season different from that agreed upon), the harsh and oppressive manner in which these measures are applied by the State, and the loss of fishing territories that have been found, emphasize the serious need for a series of reforms (Table 2).
Firstly, the current fora instituted under the MPAs (APA) management councils could be optimized in a way that promotes a review of the current marine plan under the State’s Ecological Economic Zoning (ZEE) as well as the seabob closure season at a more regional level. A new direction to protect the environment and establish territorial use rights for fishers based on genuine and consistent community-based processes at the local level would be recommended. Also, although some MPAs have evidenced real benefits for biodiversity conservation in coral reef ecosystems, it should be mentioned that São Paulo’s APAs have a very particular coastal setting and social structure (e.g. a non-reef ecosystems, located in a large portion of the country’s coastal zone with stronger social-environmental disputes and economic power which has been gathering public attention due to recent oil and pre-salt discoveries). In this sense, their approach to natural resource management should instead be inspired by other MPA categories within the Brazilian legal framework (SNUC 2000) more appropriated to the socioenvironmental context, such as the Marine Extractive Reserves (RESEX) and Sustainable Development Reserves (RDS) (e.g. see Gasalla 2011).
Lastly, it has been demonstrated that spatially-oriented community-based measures such as TURFs (Panayoutou 1982) or LMMAs could be of particular help in contributing to an increase in the sustainability of fisheries, ecosystem stewardship, and local social wellbeing. If both the food production rights and poverty alleviation needs are recognized in territorial approaches, new ways of governability may advocate for participatory processes (Gasalla 2011; FAO 2014) that should be characterized by transparency, accountability, cohesiveness, and inclusiveness (Jentoft 2013).
Enterprises and legal innovation for public policies
Coastal zone infrastructure projects demand marine space for their activities, using it as logistics channels and an area for deposits, imposing ‘subtractability’ on fishing areas and excluding other incompatible activities. For example, underwater dredging, sewage and the limitations on the access imposed by port activities and by the oil and gas sector may indirectly create offsets for small-scale fishers. In Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, 75 % of the whole artisanal fishing area has been lost to oil and gas, ports, and infrastructure construction (Chaves 2011). These projects as a whole, often financed by public resources, fall into the accepted practices of environmental licensing that, as a rule, lead to socio-environmental damage, which is hard to equate within the licensing procedure. In the so-called “green economy” paradigm, it should lead to financial compensation and reimbursements in the process of valuing biodiversity as part of business or market values. In Brazil, entrepreneurs are required by law to develop programs for the “socio-environmental compensation” of each of their different projects in order to maintain their environmental licenses. However, these programs are created or designed from the entrepreneurs’ perspective with no input from those who suffer the consequent damages. Characterized by a major conflict of interests between those who need the compensation, those who have to pay for it, and those who usually implement the process, a reformulation of such procedures has been recommended (Gasalla 2011). Further analysis suggests that more independent social-environmental programs based on specific territorial use rights, funded and paid for by the enterprise responsible for the loss of fishing territory, and which include non-monetary compensation for the fishing communities, may be an important way forward.
Furthermore, there is a clear opportunity for social innovation (e.g. projects based upon communities’ demands) amongst governmental environmental agencies, since it is a public attribution to consider and accept proposals from third parties (e.g. fishing communities). This is something that is already happening, as can be seen in the case of the mangrove areas around Santos Harbour (CETESB 2012).
Another innovation presently under way in Brazil, which is developing in the legal Federal sphere, involves the judiciary’s understanding of “mediation” as a method for bringing interests together. A legal development should occur with the approval of the Mediation Law, a new piece of legislation which requires that a negotiation between conflicting parties be part of procedural rites so that environmental injustices are solved extra-judicially based on conciliatory dialogue (Gandini 2014). It is expected that this sort of legal innovation, applied in the social-ecological field, will be a landmark in the field of disputes over spatial use in Brazil and will certainly benefit by a territorial approach to fishing.
In summary, the ways forward embrace the need for a more in-depth territorial approach to fisheries, especially from the perspectives of present coastal zoning, MPAs and the blue-economy. It should include effective participation, the recognition of fishing territories, and innovative processes for environmental licensing, adaptation, mitigation, and compensation. Such participatory approach to fishing (re)territorialization seems to move towards the nationwide mobilizations led by the 'Movimento de Pescadores e Pescadoras’ (‘Fishermen’s and Fisherwomen’s Movement’ - MPP) which defends a Brazilian version of territorial use rights as a way to deliver societal benefits and achieve ecological and socio-economic goals in fisheries (MPP, 2012). This also shows a certain amount of agreement with what was proposed by the Citizenship Territories Policy (‘Programa Territórios de Cidadania’) in Brazil in around 2008, which failed to get implemented in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.