To Advance Sustainability, Brazil Takes Critical Step in Fisheries Transparency

By revealing the movements of more than 1,500 industrial fishing boats, Brazil seeks to bolster management of fish stocks

The Issue

Like many countries, Brazil has a vessel monitoring system (VMS) which is used to monitor its fishing fleet. Introduced in 2007, the system enables managers and relevant authorities to keep track of vessels and their activities along Brazil’s 5,280 mile (8,500 kilometers) coastline, helping to ensure their compliance with regulations and management measures.

Historically, government and regional authorities have had proprietary ownership of VMS data, hampering coordination between countries and stifling efforts to sustainably manage fish stocks and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. But things have started to change.

Our Work

In 2021, Brazil became the sixth country in Latin America—and the first on the Atlantic coast—to share its VMS data with Global Fishing Watch. This made the movements of more than 1,500 industrial fishing vessels publicly visible on the Global Fishing Watch map, providing a comprehensive picture of fishing activity within Brazilian waters. 

Increasing the visibility of the fishing fleet in this way makes it easier to identify vessels that are not complying with regulations or are behaving suspiciously, helping target these vessels for inspection. It also provides those that are fishing responsibly with the opportunity to demonstrate compliance. A shining example of this is seen through the fishing industry’s Open Tuna initiative, which promotes the sustainability of the tuna fishery through the modernization of data collection. 

Under our agreement with Brazil, we assist fisheries managers and authorities in utilizing our tools to bolster monitoring and analysis, and help focus enforcement efforts. Our joint work seeks to ensure good fisheries management and promote sustainability of the country’s fish stocks, which include high-value species like Brazilian sardines, skipjack tuna, and lobster. 

In lead up to Brazil’s momentous decision to share its vessel tracking data on our map, the country affirmed its dedication to fisheries transparency when it stood alongside five other Latin American States at the 34th Session of the Committee on Fisheries in support of bolstering fisheries monitoring through open data

We look forward to our continued work with Brazil, exploring ways to make the monitoring, control and surveillance of the country’s vessels and fisheries more transparent and efficient.

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