The conflict between the southern right whale and coastal fisheries
on the southern coast of Brazil
Camilah Antunes Zappesa,c,n, Camila Ventura da Silvaa, Mˆ onica Pontaltib, Mˆ onica Lauriano Danielskib,
Ana Paula Madeira Di Benedittoa
aUniversidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Centro de Biociˆ encias e Biotecnologia, Laborato ´rio de Ciˆ encias Ambientais, Avenida Alberto Lamego, 2000 Parque Califo ´rnia, Campos
dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, CEP 28013-602, Brazil
bInstituto Baleia Franca, Rua Manoel A´lvaro de Arau ´jo, 200 Centro Histo ´rico, Garopaba, Santa Catarina, CEP 88495-000, Brazil
cInstituto de Pesquisas Canane ´ia, Ponto de Cultura ‘Caic -aras’, Rua Trist~ ao Lobo, 199 Centro, Canane ´ia, SP, CEP 11990-000, Brazil
a r t i c l e i n f o
Received 30 May 2012
Received in revised form
17 July 2012
Accepted 17 July 2012
Available online 16 August 2012
Environmental Preservation Area
a b s t r a c t
The objective of this study was to identify the interactions and conflicts that exist between the southern
right whale (E. australis) and the coastal fisheries performed in the Southern Right Whale Environ-
mental Preservation Area (EPA) in the state of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, through the knowledge of
local fishers. Thirty-three ethnographic interviews held in October 2010 found that 81.8% (N¼27) of the
fishermen interviewed were able to identify the species by its area of occurrence, coloration, and body
size. The subsequent analysis of interviews was based on those 27 fishermen selected. There were no
reports of positive interactions, and 52% (N¼14) of those interviewed described negative interactions
related to whales ‘‘tearing and/or dragging the gillnets’’. Accidents between whales and fishing vessels
were described by 44% (N¼12) of the fishermen. Accidental captures in gillnets were mentioned in 48%
(N¼13) of the interviews and fishermen believed that these events were caused by whales failing to see
gillnets in the water (N¼4) and by the position of these nets in the routes frequented by the mammals
(N¼9). In the fishermen’s eyes this type of interaction has minimal impact on fishery. Therefore, is
suggested the monitoring of areas frequented by whales and fishery, the use of gillnets away from these
animals’ migration routes, the search for alternative and lower-impact fishing activities, and the
training of local actors for sustainable whale watching tourism in the region.
& 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Commercial whaling in the state of Santa Catarina (271S,
491W), southern Brazil, began in the mid-17th Century with the
installation of whaling stations in this region. The oil extracted
from the animal’s fat was used for illumination, as a lubricant, and
in the fabrication of mortar used in the masonry of buildings in
the coastal cities of the state. A portion of this oil was also
exported to Portugal .
The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis Desmoulins,
1822) became the main target of this whaling activity in the
region due to its habit of remaining on the ocean surface for long
periods of time. In 1987, Federal Law no. 7.643/87 prohibited
whaling and since then the number of whales that migrate
seasonally along the coastlines of the country appears to have
increased with each passing year [2,3]. The last intentional
whaling incident for which there is official registration occurred
in 1973 near the municipality of Imbituba, state of Santa Catarina,
with no other reports of this activity in the region thereafter [2,4].
Brazilian waters with the highest concentration of the species
lie off the state of Santa Catarina, between Ilha de Santa Catarina
(Floriano ´polis) (271250S, 481300W) and Cabo de Santa Marta
(281360S, 481480W) [5–7]. The Southern Right Whale Environ-
mental Preservation Area (Southern Right Whale EPA), a Federal
Preservation Unit instituted in 2000, is located within this region
and extends from the south of Ilha de Santa Catarina to Praia do
Rinc~ ao (281420S, 491160W) . Within the limits of the Southern
Right Whale EPA local artisanal fishermen share their fishing
waters with the southern right whale [2,9].
According to Diegues [10,11], artisanal fishermen consist of a
group that makes use of family labor for subsistence activities
based on fishing and local/traditional inherited knowledge. Fishery
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/marpol
0308-597X/$-see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
nCorresponding author at: Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Centro
de Biociˆ encias e Biotecnologia, Laborato ´rio de Ciˆ encias Ambientais, Avenida
Alberto Lamego, 2000 Parque Califo ´rnia, Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro,
CEP 28013-602, Brazil. Tel.: þ55 22 8144 1318; fax: þ55 22 2739 7252.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com (C. Antunes Zappes),
firstname.lastname@example.org (C.V. da Silva),
email@example.com (M. Pontalti), firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com (M. Lauriano Danielski),
firstname.lastname@example.org (A.P.M. Di Beneditto).
Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
resources are generally sold in local or regional markets, a port of
which is reserved for household consumption. These fishermen
report that they interact positively with small cetaceans that are
distributed in fishing areas, as for example when animals aid in
human fishery by indicating the locations of schools of fish (e.g.,
[12–14]), but regarding baleen whales this kind of interaction is
not described. Apparently, these interactions are positive only for
humans. Negative interactions that involve dolphins and baleen
whales are described, as in cases of cetacean entanglement in nets
and collisions with boats (e.g., [15,16]). In relation to baleen
whales, there are no studies based on local knowledge of small-
scale fishermen or describing any type of interaction between
fishermen and the large cetaceans.
In this context, ethnobiological studies have shown the impor-
tance of seeking local knowledge of fishermen to provide infor-
mation about the biology and ecology of the cetaceans species
based on empirical knowledge . In Brazil, few ethnobiological
studies have evaluated the local knowledge of artisanal fishermen
with respect to whales and these studies do not expound the
issues involving the interactions [17–19]. With respect to the
southern right whale, little is known about fishermen perceptions
related to conflicts among small-scale fishing, the species’ pre-
servation, and the whale watching tourism in the Southern Right
Whale EPA .
2. Whales strikes in fisheries
Aquatic mammal populations distributed in areas with heavy
motor vessel traffic and fishery are more vulnerable to such
human activities [20,21]. The noise produced by the engines can
affect the behavior of these animals, since they use echolocation
to communicate and perceive their environment . Some
baleen whales may not be able to detect sounds originating from
surface boats which can lead to collisions . Those collisions
could interfere negatively in the recovery of the populations of
whales that suffered high losses due to past hunting . Despite
fishing boats being small and easily maneuverable, accidents
involving these vessels can cause external damage to hulls in
addition to causing injury or death of the animals [23,24].
Throughout the world, there is the need for a global database
of incidents involving collisions between fishing boats and ceta-
ceans . In this sense, measures to mitigate the ship strikes are
recommended as a matter of high priority . Many such
accidents could be avoided by training fishing crews to recognize
the presence of cetaceans .
Another accident that involves fishery and large whales is
entanglement in fishing gear that can cause impaired foraging
resulting in starvation after many months; infection arising from
open wounds and hemorrhage or debilitation due to gear-related
damage to tissues . Various studies carried out worldwide have
described such accidents between fishery and large whales [27–34].
In order to maximize fishing yields, gillnets are designed to be nearly
invisible when underwater . Because of this, one of the factors
that contribute to the entanglement of cetaceans is not detecting the
strands of the mesh .
Whales’ eyesight is not highly developed, having only low
resolution related to the presence of monochromatic cones in the
eyes that indicate levels of color blindness [37,38]. Limited color
perception could be an unfavorable factor in an underwater
environment because the spectral composition of light in the
blue water of the ocean becomes more displaced at lower depths
. The problem of entanglements is not detection, but percep-
tion of the obstacle, as animals may perceive the mesh as a
penetrable object . Gillnets have their breaking strength and
elongation reduced when exposed to sunlight. One year after the
monofilaments have been used, the net can disintegrate and lose
its fishing ability completely . This photo-degradation leaves
the net more brittle over time . The hypothesis that fishermen
could take advantage of the effect of photo-degradation of gillnets
and blame the cetaceans of damaging the artifacts is not justified,
since many times fishermen put new gillnets in the water and
after a few hours they are damaged.
In Southern Brazil, Sim~ oes-Lopes et al.  reported bycatch of
southern right whales calves by gillnets and Zerbini and Kotas 
related that baleen whales can be released alive from entangle-
ment, but sections of net may remain attached to their bodies. In
most cases, deaths occur among calves due to their relatively small
size. In the state of Parana ´, Southern Brazil, Przbylski and Mon-
teiro-Filho  related the sighting of one southern right whale
which remained a few days with fishing net stuck in its head.
According to fishermen, as there is an increase of fishing in oceanic
and coastal areas, larger numbers of nets are positioned in the
water, increasing the number of cetaceans killed [42,44]. Baleen
whale entanglement has been regarded as both a major challenge
for preservation efforts and a threat to the well-being of each
affected individual .
In the Southern Hemisphere, the number of southern right
whales in their wintering grounds and the annual growth rates of
these populations range have been estimated between 7% and 8%
[45–48]. In Brazil, more E. australis are seen each year and appar-
ently the population has increased at a rate of 29.8% per year .
There have been no studies on the number of accidental captures
and collisions of southern right whales with fisheries vessels in their
EPA region . Informal observation has led some people to report
an increase in the number of accidental entanglements of this
species, especially with respect to calves (M.L. Danielski, personal
So, because of the increment, in each year, of sightings of
whales in Southern Brazil, increased too the occurrence of con-
flicts with human activities . In this sense, the increase of
southern right whales population in the Southern Right Whale
EPA and the fishery practices in the region, this study aims to
describe through reports of artisanal fishermen the interactions
between fishermen and southern right whale and the occurrence
of conflicts arising from these interactions. With the results, the
authors propose possible solutions for the conflicts.
3. Materials and methods
3.1. Area of study
The municipality of Garopaba (281010S, 481360W), located on
the mid-southern coast of the state of Santa Catarina, possesses a
coastal area of 108 km2that lies within the Southern Right Whale
EPA (Fig. 1). This region is home to the Z-12 Fishermen’s Colony
and according to Rebouc -as  there are 11 fishing associations in
operation. In these associations, 500 fishers of diverse Garopaba
communities and neighboring municipalities are registered. This
study was performed on the beaches of Gamboa, where there are
30 registered fishermen, and on Garopaba beach, where 50 fish-
ermen are registered.
Studies related to local ecological knowledge are subjective and
complex, because they are based on beliefs and symbols of a
community . The qualitative approach, in which reports of
local members are obtained, showed to be appropriate for these
studies related to cultural perception, because it does not quantify,
but allows the approach between subject and object. This enables
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
the researcher to better understand the historical, social and
cultural context. A qualitative research is concerned with meaning
and not with generalized hypothesis statements. The occurrence of
the data is useful to understand the subjective process of a culture,
thus frequencies are rarely important in this line of research .
In qualitative studies, if the sample is too large, obtaining new data
does not introduce new information related to the objectives of the
research, which can become repetitive .
One of the main issues related to qualitative research in human
ecology is the level of reality that cannot be quantified, since it is
considered the universe of meanings, values and attitudes, which
corresponds to the processes and phenomena that cannot be reduced
to variables . In studies related to ethnoscience, an ideal sample
size between 30 and 60 interviews is described [53,54]. Other studies
of ethnobiology – as this study, in which the perception of fishermen
in relation to marine mammals in the southern and southeastern
Brazil was analyzed – also used sample rates equivalent to less than
50% of fishermen registered in institutions of local fishing: Souza and
Begossi , with an average of five respondents in each community
in S~ ao Sebasti~ ao, state of S~ ao Paulo; Peterson et al. , with 51
interviews in Laguna, state of Santa Catarina; and Zappes et al. ,
with 22 interviews in the Bar Imbe ´/Tramandaı ´, state of Rio Grande
do Sul. Based on these studies, whose communities have similarities,
the sample size of 33 respondents is efficient for obtaining ethno-
In this study, interviews were conducted with artisanal fisher-
men who are active in the coastal areas near Garopaba, specifically
off the beaches of Gamboa and Garopaba, and who are associates of
the Z-12 Fishermen’s Colony. Information was collected during
October 2010 from 33 ethnographic interviews: Gamboa (N¼14)
and Garopaba (N¼19). On the beaches of Gamboa and Garopaba,
80 fishermen are registered in total, which means that 41.3% of the
working fishermen in the area were interviewed. The number of
interviews carried out (N¼33) is justified by the fact that from two
to four fishermen work in each fishing vessel, these men can work
in more than one vessel, and the same pattern of responses became
apparent after the 10th interview.
Interviews were oriented by a standard questionnaire ,
which had been previously composed and contained semi-struc-
tured  open (49) and closed (19) questions. All interviews were
conducted through dialogs (personal interviews or face-to-face) in a
question–answer format designed to maximize confidence between
the interviewer and interviewee and increase the reliability of data
[14,57]. The existence of dialog between researcher and research
granted freedom to the informants to present their reports. In this
process of dialog, interlocutors have a shared vision of local reality,
which facilitates the relationship during an interview . In
ethnographic studies, the reliance between a researcher and a local
member acts on the decision of ‘what to ask and how to ask’. The
response of the local member to the researcher may indicate the
real reason why some questions remain unanswered . During an
interview, the subjects try to explain their views and those of other
local members . When the researcher breaks down the barriers
(for example, language, dressing, differences between behavior and
especially the fact of not belonging to the group), between him and
the local member, it facilitates the process of obtaining information.
Even so, the researcher will always be an outsider to the group and
therefore must carefully evaluate and analyze what is captured in
the discourse of local members .
The questionnaire was divided into the following categories:
(1) socioeconomic data pertaining to the fisher (age, residence,
and time working in fishery); (2) description of fishing activities
(equipment, vessels, and marketable fish) ; (3) characteristics
of the species studied; (4) negative and positive interactions
between the species and artisan fishery; and, (5) solutions to
any conflicts reported between the species and fishing (Table 1).
Questions initially dealt with adult whales and subsequently
focused on young individuals (newborns and calves). This format
allowed interviewees to describe clearly each of the two age
groups dealt with. Some questions elicited closed responses
followed by open justifications or explanations, thus allowing
local members to express their reasoning. At the end of each
interview, a board containing illustrative pictures of cetacean
species that are considered by popular culture as baleen whales
and reports in the literature for the southeastern coast and
southern Brazil (Orcinus orca, Megaptera novaeangliae, Balaenop-
tera edeni), among which was inserted a photo of E. australis, was
presented to the fishermen. This visual stimulation helped during
the analysis of reports and was used to facilitate the identification
of the species by the local members .
In order to gain the confidence of local members who would
be interviewed in the first meeting with the president of the Z-12
Fig. 1. Southern Right Whale EPA, municipality of Garopaba, state of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil.
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
Fishermen’s Colony, one of the authors (Silva) was accompanied by
a local member (Pontalti), who is also an author of this study and a
researcher at the Southern Right Whale Institute. Pontalti per-
formed the function of a guide, directing the researcher through
the region .
This local member knew all the fishermen in the region since in
certain occasions the Southern Right Whale Institute worked with
the fishing community. This way, the fishermen of the Southern
Right Whale EPA were familiarized with the presence of researchers
from the Southern Right Whale Institute. In order to avoid obtaining
false reports, the interviewer (Silva) did not only observe what was
reported, but also paid attention to the interviewer–interviewee
contact (observation ‘above the shoulder’), in other words, what a
report means . In an ethnographic study, there is information
provided with pleasure, other provided with reluctance and other
that is simply not provided . Therefore, before each interview, the
objectives of the research were explained to the local members and
were also asked whether they would accept to participate in it .
Also, before each interview, it was explained to the local members
that their names would not be disclosed and that there was no need
to inform their family names; only first names were requested so
that the researcher could communicate politely with them.
In order to test the reliability of information provided and
confirm the accuracy of data reported, the technique of informa-
tion repeated in synchronic situation was employed; hence the
same questionnaire was applied to all local members [57,65]. The
snowball method or net method was used from the first interview
with each person interviewed suggesting other potential inter-
viewees [66,67]. This technique works with reference chains
making use of relations between people. These methods act as a
‘‘personal network’’ in which there is a focal individual that
through his/her relationships in the social environment are in
direct or indirect contact with any other person. Thus, after each
interview, the local member was asked to indicate other local
member (fisherman) who could participate in the study and the
process was repeated with new respondents, creating a network
. These indications of new members allowed the addition of
varied insertion points . By making use of the knowledge and
social networks of the local community, this method enhances
the researcher’s ability to identify fishermen, since someone local
can provide better information about the community than some-
one who initially observes from outside.
Terms used on the questionnaire were in conformity with the
common vocabulary employed by the fishermen in order to avoid
misinterpretations of the questions asked. One of the authors of
the study (Silva) introduced herself as a member of a teaching
institution, precluding association with authorities or regulatory
agencies. All interviewed local members were chosen according
to the following criteria: (1) engaging in artisanal fishery, (2) hav-
ing fishery as the main economic activity, and (3) conducting
artisanal fishery within the Southern Right Whale EPA. With the
intention of avoiding the interference of one informant on the
testimony of others, each interview was conducted individually,
either in the residence of the person interviewed or in the port
where fishery activities were performed.
Once the interviews were performed, the information obtained
was grouped by categories of themes in order to classify the
reports and facilitate their interpretation . This classification
made it possible to clarify the relationship between the language
and the social interaction through the application of discourse
analysis for the understanding of local members’ perceptions
about the interactions with the southern right whale .
The ability of those local members to correctly recognize the
target species of this study was confirmed through the selection of
reports that reflected the distribution patterns of the species in the
region. These patterns included the sighting of individuals 100–
1500 m from the coastline, groups of females with calves sighted
beyond the wave break line at depths of 5–10 m [1,72], typical body
color (black with white spots and the presence of calluses on the
head), maximum body length (17 m), and with the behavioral
patterns described in the literature [73,74]. As part of the criteria
for identification of the species, the local member should indicate the
picture of E. australis on the board. As this study aimed to describe the
interactions between artisanal fishermen and southern right whale
and the occurrence of conflicts arising from these interactions, our
results only include data from reports that identified the species
according to the criteria outlined above.
According to the fishermen, in the municipality of Garopaba
(Gamboa and Garopaba beaches), the following equipment was
used in small-scale fishing: gillnets, longlines, lines, and shrimp
trawls. Gillnets are the most widely used item by artisanal fisher-
men. It is placed up to 1000 m from the coast, and is reportedly
used throughout the year, year after year (Fig. 2). Fishermen prefer
to use the monofilament net because this material is less expensive
than multifilament net. According to the reports of fishermen, the
boats were made of wood or fiberglass and may or may not have
Topics of the issues of semi-structured questionnaire.
1. Social economic aspects
Period in which works with fishing in the region
2. Description of the fishing
Boats (length, engine)
3. Characteristics of
southern right whale
Occurrence area behavior
4. Interaction with fishing
Occurrence of bycatch
Local of bycatch
Destination of the carcasses: used as bait,
consumption, sale, discarded
5. Solutions to conflicts
Fig. 2. ‘Gillnet’. Photograph by Camila Ventura da Silva.
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
had a galley. The power of the motors could vary from 11 to 140
horsepower (hp). Some fishermen used row boats and boat length
could vary from 5 to 20 m (Figs. 3 and 4).
Among the 33 fishermen interviewed, 27 identified the whale as
belonging to the species E. australis: Gamboa (N¼10) and Garopaba
(N¼17) (Figs. 5 and 6). According the fishermen of both beaches,
there were no positive interaction between the southern right
whale and artisanal fishery. Negative interaction was reported by
52% (N¼14) of those interviewed, and it was related to animals
‘‘tearing and/or dragging the gillnets’’ (Fig. 7). The other fishermen
who identified the southern right whale (N¼13) reported no
interaction of any kind between the species and artisanal fishery.
According to those local members, the animal tears and/or
drags the net while it is ‘‘floating’’ in the water, and they claimed
that whales damage or move nets as they swim. Among those
fishermen who identified the species, 44% (N¼12) described the
occurrence of accidents related to collisions between fishing
vessels and the southern right whale (Fig. 8). The collisions can
happen as whales make their way through the water and get too
close to vessels, perhaps out of curiosity. This kind of accident
happens more often at night when the reduced visibility makes it
more difficult to discern the animals’ presence. Another explana-
tion for collisions, as given by fishermen, was that southern right
whales are frightened by the sound of the fishing vessel engine
and strike the boats with their flukes or flippers upon trying to
escape. In this study, the intention of the local members in trying
to move the whales off their gear with their boats was not
identified. According to them, there was reluctance in approach-
ing the southern right whale because it is a big and strong animal.
The fishermen did not intend to approach and/or hurt the animal,
because they are afraid of its approximation. These fishermen
Fig. 3. Wooden boat without gallery. Photograph by Camila Ventura da Silva.
Fig. 4. Fiberglass boat with a galley. Photograph by Camila Ventura da Silva.
Fig. 5. Eubalaena australis next to the beach in Southern Right Whale EPA.
Photograph by Enrique Alfredo Litman.
Fig. 6. Adult and calve of Eubalaena australis in Southern Right Whale EPA.
Photograph by Enrique Alfredo Litman.
Fig. 7. Frequency of reports referring to ‘‘tearing and/or dragging the gillnet’’
negative interaction involving Eubalaena australis among the fishing communities
of Gamboa and Garopaba, southern Brazil.
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
stated that ‘‘the whales are good for nothing and they only get in our
way when we’re fishing,’’ showing clear indignation with respect to
Regarding the 27 fishermen who identified the species, 48%
(N¼13) described the accidental capture of southern right whales
in gillnets: Gamboa (N¼6; 46%) and Garopaba (N¼7; 54%). These
fishermen were unable to quantify these entanglements. Accord-
ing to them, no estimates on the number of southern right whale
entanglements exist, and what is known on this subject is based
on anecdotal evidence provided by other fishermen and/or their
own experiences in this regard.
As to the fishermen who described entanglements, 15% (Gam-
boa N¼1; Garopaba N¼1) asserted that this occurrence was rare, as
the southern right whale is ‘‘a very big fish’’. One fisherman from
Gamboa reported that entanglements did not occur in fishing nets
in the region, because in his view the strands that compose the nets
were not thick and were easily broken when they come in contact
with whales. According to the fishermen, the area in which south-
ern right whales can entangle in nets is located between 10 and
3700 m from the coastline; however, gillnets were used all over the
year and could be assembled in the depth between 3 and 60 m from
the beach and between 100 and 1000 m in the ocean, in the middle
of the water’s column or in the surface. Gillnets were usually
composed of panels measuring approximately 100 m long. The
mesh network ranged from 60 to 200 mm. Length depended on
the size of the vessel and could reach from 4 to 5000 m. According
to fishermen who reported occurrences of accidental capture, the
carcasses of netted southern right whales were currently buried on
the beach, but that the fat was previously used in the production of
oil for preparing food.
The bycatch of southern right whales is attributed to an
inability of the animals to perceive gillnets in the water (N¼4)
and because the nets happen to be positioned in the animals’
paths (N¼9). They further maintain that the animal’s size often
makes it possible to have the gillnets dragged (Fig. 9). In this
study, the gillnets considered damaged by E. australis could not be
quantified or the remains of these artifacts could not be obtained.
This is because part of them was lost in the sea and the other part
(like cable and floating buoys) was undergoing a tentative repair
by the fishermen. In many occasions, fishermen returning from a
fishing working day reported that they had lost the gillnet
because the southern right whale had dragged it.
The fishermen (44%; N¼12) suggested not using the gillnet from
July to November, when whales migrate along the coastline of the
state of Santa Catarina, as a potential mitigation for entanglement.
According to them, another alternative economic activity could be
whale watching tourism.
5. Management issues
Considering the baleen whales reported to the coast of the state
of Santa Catarina (Balaenoptera acutorostrata [75,76], Balaenoptera
bonaerensis , Balaenoptera borealis , B. edeni , M. novaean-
gliae  and E. australis), only E. australis can be sighted from the
beaches of the Southern Right Whale EPA . Due to its particular
morphology and the presence of a set of callus at the top and sides
of the head present from birth, absence of dorsal fin, black rounded
body, white irregular ventral spots and big mouth [1,78–80], their
identification by non-expert observers, such as fishermen, is facili-
tated. Nevertheless, in this study not all fishermen were able to
identify E. australis. What may have happened was the misunder-
standing of the language between researchers and researched and
not necessarily that the fishermen did not know the species. This
study does not intend to identify possible errors in the local
ecological knowledge in relation to southern right whale, but to
identify the perceptions of fishermen in relation to the species, a
relationship of ‘culture studying culture’ . The exchange of
information between the local member and the researcher can be
complex, including the difficulty of the local member to understand
the language of the researcher .
The integration of local knowledge and scientific knowledge can
generate problems arising primarily from conflicting data types
. This is fundamentally due to different worldviews between
scientists and fishermen and has resulted in very different conclu-
sions being drawn from similar sets of observations. There are gaps
in both scientific and local knowledge concerning the biology and
ecology of organisms that in some cases can lead to poor manage-
ment. The fusion of these two types of knowledge may offer a
complementary effect and lead to improved resource management
. Therefore, proximity between scientists and local commu-
nities, seeking to facilitate this relationship and the exchange of
information between these two cultural groups, is necessary .
In this study, the negative interaction described by the fisher-
men drastically affects the practice of fishing in the region because
the losses of nets during the entanglement is a significant problem
to fishermen due to the economic loss of the gear, the fishing efforts
of the entire crew, resources invested in fuel for the fishing vessel
and food for the crew while at sea. Frustration over not knowing
how to avoid such encounters and feelings of anger over financial
losses caused by the whales is considerably evident in the fisher-
men reports. The fishermen described the occurrence of accidental
capture of southern right whales by fishing artifacts, but the real
number of this bycatch is unknown, a fact which complicates an
adequate understanding of the extent to which the incidental
capture of this species interferes with preservation efforts in this
region. In an attempt to reduce the bycatch from July to November,
when whales migrate along the coastline of the state of Santa
Fig. 8. Frequency of reports referring to collisions between fishing vessels and
Eubalaena australis regarding the fishing communities of Gamboa and Garopaba,
Fig. 9. Frequency of reports related to causes of the accidental capture of
Eubalaena australis in gillnets in the fishing communities of Gamboa and
Garopaba, southern Brazil.
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
Catarina, fishermen suggest not using the gillnets. This is an
interdisciplinary question that must be discussed among the fishing
community, researchers and local government leaders through the
promotion of policies designed to enhance cooperative decision-
making on issues related to environmental and natural resource
The fishing activity is directly linked to environment and this
relation too involves social rules and technology . According
this author, the technology is critical in questions about fishery–
mammals aquatic interactions because mainly involves fishing
nets. To keep artisanal fishing viable through the social–ecological
system, this activity must adapt to the new environment, in case
of this study involves the high number of southern right whale in
Brazilian coastal waters.
As the alternative of not using gillnets was suggested by the
fishermen themselves, it becomes evident that the respondents
were open to this type of regulation. This view of the local members
indicates that, apparently, a joint action is now possible (commu-
nity of fishing–researchers–Brazilian governances) in order to
reduce the bycatch of southern right whales. Efforts should be
devoted to improve participation and increase trust among actors
in order to successfully implement co-management strategies with
the cooperation of the local community . The establishment of a
co-management structure for a common resource allows for a more
integrated approach in the preparation and implementation of laws
regulating fishing activities . In this context, the fishermen’
suggestion of not using gillnets during the period when whales are
in the area demonstrates the necessity to come up with alternative
economic activities for the local actors that could temporarily
substitute the practice of artisanal fishery carried out with gillnets.
Another alternative economic activity suggested by the fishermen
was the whale watching tourism. In the area, this activity is carried
out by a tour company which allows them to observe the flow of
tourists, identifying this as an alternative activity in which the fishing
community can act. Rebouc -as  described that local fishermen do
not agree with financial investments aimed at the preservation of
this species because they do not feel that the southern right whale is
threatened by extinction, since it is not a target species of commer-
cial fishing activities. In Garopaba, in the case of whale watching
tourism, fishermen expressed frustration since they are unable to
participate in this industry because they do not have financial
resources to purchase suitable boats for tourism and safety equip-
ment required to perform this activity. In contrast, entrepreneurs
from other regions successfully engage in such endeavors without
spreading profits among the local communities .
In areas where there is a well established fishing tradition,
researchers, authorities, and local government leaders should
engage in an in-depth analyses of human ecology and suggest
alternatives to minimize social disturbance [90,91]. According to
Meek et al. , the community cannot wait for a change and/or
arising of the research and government institutions that can help
in adaptation to the environment. To the fishermen the high
number of southern right whale each year in Southern Right
Whale EPA is the fact. So, damage compensation is not sufficient if
the activities to develop the fishery are neglected.
In order to minimize negative interactions between the south-
ern right whale and artisanal fishery in the Southern Right Whale
EPA, some measures are suggested according with the reality
local to increase awareness of the relation between the southern
right whale and small-scale fishery. In this sense, the first
measure should be the regular monitoring of areas frequented
by these animals (for birthing and breastfeeding, socializing, and
reproduction) and areas in which gillnets are used, to identify
areas of overlap between whales and fishery [3,93].
It is necessary to identify new fishing areas in which fishery
resources support fishing in the Southern Right Whale EPA and
that are not located on the routes of animals. To ensure fish
stocks, it is important to think about the installation of artificial
reefs in the Southern Right Whale EPA. The choice of these new
areas and the installation of artificial reefs should occur with the
participation of local fishermen. This way, the local ecological
knowledge would be applied and thus the traditional manage-
ment of new fishing grounds would be performed.
There is an important development and implementation of a
management plan applicable to fishing artifacts in southern
Brazil, taking into account the economic reality of the local fishing
, positioning nets away from the migratory routes of the
animals as proposed by Reeves et al.  and at depths not used
by southern right whales in the region. As these animals make use
of areas that vary between 100 and 1500 m from the coastline
and at depths between 5 and 10 m, it is suggested that gillnets be
positioned at a minimum of 2000 m from the coast and at depths
of 20 m. It is recommended the use of spaces along very long nets
to create passageways between sets of nets. Based on the fact that
adults and calves measure up to 17 m and 6 m, respectively, it is
suggested a space between nets of up to 50 m (Fig. 10).
There is also a possibility of installing mechanical and electronic
warning devices that emit sonar pulses at low frequencies and high
amplitudes in order to make nets more perceptible to animals.
Experiments involving such questions were carried out with hump-
back whales in Newfoundland, Canada, by Lien et al. . Dawson
 argues that alterations of this nature on fishing equipment
could reduce cetacean entanglements throughout the world. Prior to
the installation of mechanical and electronic warning, it is necessary
to explain to the fishermen how the equipment works and subse-
quently empower future users so that they could use it correctly.
After this process, it is important to think about a financial incentive
so that fishermen can acquire the mechanical and electronic
warning device, as well as make it available to researchers and
technicians to give support to the community that will use this
equipment. Even involving the entanglement, it is necessary to
Fig. 10. Proposal to change the positioning of gillnets within the 20 m isobaths to
minimize the bycatch of Eubalaena australis in Southern Right Whale EPA.
C. Antunes Zappes et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 428–437
conduct systematic surveys about the number of whales inciden-
tally captured by gillnets and compare this information with data
pertaining to population estimates in order to identify the viability
of populations in regions where there is overlap between animal
habitat and fishing areas [31,95,96].
In conjunction with fishermen, seek alternative and new fishing
techniques that will have less impact on southern right whales in a
way to allow the survival of this local economic activity. With
technological improvements and behavioral changes, fishery can
decrease the damage to aquatic ecosystems through better access
to capital with the government subsidy; effective technology
infrastructure support together with researchers; and flexible
fishery management systems that enable the rapid development
and understanding of alternative gears .
It is necessary to improve ways of access, use and management
of natural resources of the fishing communities so that income
can be generated with new areas of employment. The developing
sustainable tourism of whale watching is a good example. This
alternative could be economically viable to the local fishing
communities since it would substitute artisanal fishery during
the reproductive season of the species in the region. However, for
this alternative to be put into practice, market studies must be
performed at local, regional and international levels. Furthermore,
this route would require socioeconomic diagnostic and environ-
mental studies in order to identify areas with the potential for
sustainable whale watching and to elaborate protocols for vessels
approaching whales in such a way as to minimize anthropic
interference on whale behavior. It requires promoting the quali-
fication of the fishing community through training courses and
developing local entrepreneurial or administrative skills aimed at
Local members who are able to host tourists must be selected
and strategies for educating the public and protecting the envir-
onment through the use of local knowledge must be elaborated.
Because aquatic transport tourism requires vessels in compliance
with Brazilian maritime regulations and other infrastructure that
can serve tourists, investments must be made in the Fishermen’s
Colony and other agencies related to fishing in the region. As
examples of successful community based tourism in protected
areas of Brazil, it is cited the works of Oliveira  on the Parque
Nacional do Pau Brasil in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil,
and Moreira et al.  in faxinais communities in the araucaria
forest remnants in the state of Parana ´, southern Brazil.
Another alternative is the sustainable commercial use of
natural resources for the production of artwork and crafts
through the use of plants from the region and mineral resources
(clay and stones). Craft activities could be organized so that
members of the fishing community can produce products to be
offered to tourists, creating leaders within the community who
are able to manage these activities, creating a bridge between the
local knowledge of the resources used and academic expertise on
natural resource management, with the aim of improving produc-
tion techniques and attaining commercial scale production.
Zanetti and Nascimento  described such activity as having
a parallel function to community based tourism in areas of the
Atlantic Forest in the state of Espı ´rito Santo, southeastern Brazil.
The use of ethnographic interviews allowed to respond to the
questions raised in the present study: (1) What are the interactions
between artisanal fishery and southern right whale through
reports of artisanal fishermen?; and (2) What are the conflicts
arising from these interactions? Based on their experience, the
artisanal fishermen who perform their activities in those regions of
the Southern Right Whale EPA preferred by the species are able to
identify the interactions that occur between the whales and
regional artisanal fishery. The fishermen reported negative inter-
actions related to whales’ ‘‘tearing and/or dragging gillnet’’; acci-
dents between whales and fishing vessels and bycatch by gillnets.
In this sense, regular monitoring of fishing activities is required
along with the inclusion of local communities in decision-making
with regard to proposals aimed at preserving the marine environ-
ment through training courses on the management of fish popula-
tions (e.g., innovations in fishing techniques, substitution of areas
chosen for fishing activities in order to diminish conflicts, and
knowledge of legislation related to fishing). Local members should
be transformed into participants in the process through which
decisions about fishery are made so that they may help choose
solutions for the existing problems between fishery and the
cetaceans in their region.
C.V. Silva thanks PIBIC/UENF for the concession of her graduate
research grant, C.A. Zappes thanks CAPES for the concession of her
post-doctoral research grant (Process 87414) and FAPERJ (E-26/
102.798/2011) and A.P.M. Di Beneditto thanks FAPERJ (E-26/102.915/
2011) and CNPq (300241/09-7). Appreciation is also extended to the
president of the Garopaba Fishermen’s Union (Z-12), to all fishermen
interviewed for their cooperation, to Luiz Clau ´dio P.S. Alves and
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