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Health and Traditional Fishing in All Saints Bay, Brazil



This paper aims to identify the chronic non-transmittable diseases afflicting individuals involved in the traditional fishing system of All Saints Bay (state of Bahia) and the search for treatment for these diseases. Based on research carried out among the fishing communities of three municipalities of All Saints Bay, the paper analyses data collected by means of a small survey (N=127). Fifty-six percent of the respondents suffer from two or even three chronic diseases, which they consider serious. The majority finds that work in fishing and harvesting shellfish, and a lack of medical assistance, are the main causes of their poor health. When asked about treatment the main complaint raised by respondents concerns the poor conditions in which health care units function and the difficulties involved in travel to health care facilities located outside their communities. It is important to note that the health conditions of these traditional fishing communities are likely to further deteriorate due to governmental budget cuts and measures taken by the government to regulate traditional fishing activities.
Paulo Cesar Alves1
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
Maria das Graças Correia2
Federal Education Institute of Bahia, campus Santo Amaro, Brazil
Leonardo Nascimento3
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
This paper aims to identify the chronic non-transmittable diseases afflicting individuals involved in the traditional fishing system of All
Saints Bay (state of Bahia) and the search for treatment for these diseases. Based on research carried out among the fishing communities
of three municipalities of All Saints Bay, the paper analyses data collected by means of a small survey (N=127). Fifty-six percent of the
respondents suffer from two or even three chronic diseases, which they consider serious. The majority finds that work in fishing and
harvesting shellfish, and a lack of medical assistance, are the main causes of their poor health. When asked about treatment the main
complaint raised by respondents concerns the poor conditions in which health care units function and the difficulties involved in travel to
health care facilities located outside their communities. It is important to note that the health conditions of these traditional fishing
communities are likely to further deteriorate due to governmental budget cuts and measures taken by the government to regulate
traditional fishing activities.
Keywords: traditional fishing, All Saints Bay (Brazil), non-transmittable chronic diseases
Defined, as the process of extraction of aquatic organisms for commercial and industrial ends, fishing is
fundamental to the economy and an important element for sociocultural aggregation. Fishing production in Brazil
is significant: it occupies 24th place on the world ranking (with approximately 2 million tons in 2014, with 40%
being farmed) and 3rd place in Latin America (below Peru and Chile). It is estimated that it generates a GDP of 5
billion reis, mobilizing around 800 thousand professionals and providing 3.5 million jobs directly and indirectly to
the country. According to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture, between 2000 and 2009, the
consumption of fish per capita increased by around 30% in Brazil, while that of bovine meat grew 10%. In 2012,
the median consumption of 11.7kg was already nearly equal to the minimum established by the World Health
1 Av. Euclides da Cunha, 475, apt. 901, Graça, 40150-120, Salvador, Brazil, (55)(71) 99950 9105,
2 Av. Aliomar Baleeiro, 2300, Pau da Lima, 41245-000, Salvador, Brazil, (55)(71) 99966 9097,
3 Rua da Graça, 15, apt. 1301, Graça, 40150-055, Salvador, Brazil, phone: (55)(71) 99230 1488,
Organization, which is 12kg/inhabitant/year.
The North Eastern region occupies 2nd place in terms of national fish production, and the state of Bahia (with
annual production estimated at 17.686 tons, in 2009), 2nd place in the NE, and 4th in the country. All Saints Bay
(ASB), with two internal bays, Iguape and Aratu, stands out in the context of Bahia: a surface of 1, 100 km2, with
an adjusted perimeter of almost 200km. ASB is characterized by a large number of estuaries, originating in a
complex of mangroves that extends for around 10 thousand hectares with an enormous potential for the cultivation
of aquatic organisms, such as mollusks and crustaceans. These receive various denominations throughout the
approximately 173 fishing communities situated in the area, whose families, for the large part, survive from the
harvesting of chumbinhos (Anomalocardia brasiliana), clams (Cardium edule), sururus (Mytilus falcata), siris
(Callinectes spp.), ostras (Crassostrea spp.), mapés (Pteria radiata), amongst other animals.
In the ASB, traditional fishing dominates, characterized as small-scale mercantile production, in which the product
(fish, shellfish, and crustaceans) serve not only for consumption by the families of the fishermen and shellfish
harvesters, but also as a product to be commercialized on a small scale. It is production of a family character,
usually carried out by the members of the same family and shared between the residents of the same community. In
many of these locations, fishing activities are combined with agricultural work, whose mode of organizing
production, according to Diegues, is close to that of traditional farming, while that of the fisherman is closer to a
cooperative of workshops.
Traditional fishing in ASB brings together a considerable number of workers. Around 30 thousand people are
involved in different ways, in what Correia describes as the “fisheries system” (a collection of activities related to
pre-capture, capture, and post-capture processing of goods). In this system, the work is diversified: preparation for
the capture of fish (with the maintenance of boats, nets, and other tools); extraction (there are various modes of
capture of fish and shellfish); value adding and commercialization of the product. The value adding involves
various operations such as evisceration, shelling, smoking, drying, packaging, freezing, and transporting of goods.
The commercialization is mainly undertaken for restaurants, bars, hotels, and other clients, principally located in
the state´s capital of Salvador and other communities of the Metropolitan Region.
It is important to emphasize the familial character of the fishing system in ASB. The members of the same family
work together in diverse activities related to pre-capture, capture, and post-capture of the fish. Fishing on the open
sea is a male activity, the role of women is mainly destined for shellfish harvesting, value adding, and
commercialization of the products captured in estuary areas. But the participation of men in these activates is also
common. The parents usually rely on the smaller children to increase the family labor force, principally in the
process of value adding to the fish. It is worth noting that the activities related to value adding are undertaken in the
interior of the fisherman/shellfish harvester's residence. In this way, it is important to emphasize that the work of
traditional fishing consumes a significant amount of time, and, having in mind the predominately familial
organization, free time and work time are not always clearly distinguishable.
The working conditions in the fishing system in All Saints Bay (ASB) are precarious. The regulatory norms in
Brazil for the work of fishermen are deficient and do not duly attend to the sociocultural reality of the world of
traditional fishing. There is a lack of public policy directed toward the organizations that stimulate fishing activity
in the country, as well as in regard to the institutions responsible for health and healthcare vigilance. The members
of the fishing system are not just subject to a set of specific risks related directly to the activities of fishing and
shellfish harvesting, but are also exposed to a set of factors owing to the growing anthropic activities with the
potential for the contamination of water, sediment, atmosphere, and fish stocks. The ecosystem of ASB has
suffered a process of contamination resultant from domestic and industrial waste over the last twenty years (such as
“trace metals” and hydrocarbons) from port activities and detritus produced by agricultural activity. In some areas,
various biological species (such as ostra, chumbinho, sururu) present concentrations of trace metals that exceed the
limits established by Brazilian legislation. The sources of contamination directly affect the sediment, atmospheric
particulate material, water bodies, and fauna, provoking irritation and rashes on the skin, and mucous in the eyes;
disturbances of the liver; problems with the immune system; in bone tissues and in the nervous system; leukemia,
cancer, and tumors. However, despite the precarious state of affairs in ASB, the studies into the health conditions of
the population are still regrettably scarce. There are very few studies into the prevention and control of Chronic
Non-transmittable Diseases (CNTD) in the fishing communities of ASB. It is necessary to note that these diseases
cause approximately 74% of deaths in Brazil. In this way, we might ask: what are the main chronic non-
transmittable diseases existent in the fishing communities of ASB? What is the profile of the fishermen and
shellfish harvesters that suffer from these illnesses? What sort of medical assistance is available for treatment? This
article has as its aim to contribute to the discussion of these questions. More specifically, it seeks to identify, in
general terms, the main health problems commonly experienced by the subjects of the fishing system in ASB and
the difficulties encountered for resolving them.
This article is based on research undertaken between January 2013 and July 2015, in four fishing villages: Baiacu
(4 thousand inhabitants) and Matarandiba (500 inhabitants) located in the municipality of Vera Cruz; Acupe (7, 500
inhabitants) in the municipality of St. Amaro; and in the municipality of Cachoeira, Santiago do Iguape (including
the village of Engenho da Cruz, around 2km distance one from the other), with a population estimated to be around
6 thousand inhabitants. The research united a multidisciplinary team from two institutions, FUBA (Federal
University of Bahia), and EIBA (Education Institute of Bahia, campi Salvador and Santo Amaro). It had as its main
aim the identification and reporting of experiences of non-transmittable diseases and health complaints in the
traditional fishing system of ASB. Beyond systematic observation so as to describe the local and contextualized
health measures for fishing and shellfish harvesting undertaken in ASB, and the peculiarities inherent to the ways
in which they are carried out, information about health conditions was collected through a small scale investigation
(N=127) and 15 interviews. The “survey” was drawn up to collect data about the distribution of traits and attributes
related to health and treatment processes. Through the use of a broad based questionnaire (structured and analyzed
via the quantitative analysis program Sphinx Plus), 127 individuals who were carriers of chronic non-transmittable
diseases, responded to questions related to health/illness in reference to their, and their families' health histories
when using the health services available in the municipality/state, and in the evaluation of treatment. It also
covered hygiene and preventative practices.
84 women and 43 men responded to the questionnaire, with an age bracket that varied from 22 to 100 years of age,
with the majority of people being between the ages of 40 to 60 years of age (36%) and 60 to 80 (35%). On average,
in the four locals chosen, married interviewees had around 5 children (36% up to 3 children; 23% from 4 to 6; 21%
from 7 to 10; 12% more than 10). The greater majority (93% resided in their own dwellings constructed from tiles
and cinder blocks (72%), with three or four rooms (30% and 23% respectively); 82% of these dwellings had
sanitation in the house; 92% had electric light; 78% had piped water coming from the public system; but only 7%
had a sewerage system (general network), with 67% using a cesspit for the disposal of feces and urine ...52% are
registered with the INSS (National Institute of Health Service).
All of the interviewees undertook activities in the fishing system in the local where they resided. Only 66%
however, are registered as professional fishermen (falling within the traditional category); 58% affirmed that they
had received Traditional Fishing Unemployment Benefits, more well known as “security-defense” (temporary
financial assistance given to traditional fisherman during the period in which the fishing of a certain species is
prohibited). Though created in 1991, in 2003 the secure-defense began to acquire greater diffusion with a growth in
the number of beneficiaries (92 thousand in 2002 to 855 thousand in 2012). Few however, are unionized. It is
interesting to note that, from the perspective of those interviewed, traditional fishing is not usually considered a
profession, but more a secondary activity, even though fishing and shellfish harvesting are daily occupations for
these individuals and their main source of family income. For them, traditional fishing is not a “profession”
because it does not fit into patterns of salaried work and does not comply with a determined workday, stipulated by
a contractor in determined locations.
The majority of fishermen and shellfish harvesters interviewed resided in communities where they were born
(56% of women and 72% of men); the rest, in neighboring communities. This data indicates a strong tendency for
persistence and durability of local family networks. Many of them work in functions that their fathers and mothers
exercised or continue to exercise: 83% of the fathers and 60% of the mothers were also fishermen/women and
shellfish harvesters. In this way, the traditional family character in the diffusion of knowledge related to fishing is
worth pointing out. In this respect, they feel themselves to be the inheritors of a long tradition in the art of fishing.
They inherit tools and instruments for fishing, such as paieiros in Baiacu, a construction originally made from
straw or ceramics in which they keep fishing tools. There are also private spaces demarcated in the sea, on the
beach, and the port which are passed down within families along the generations. Examples of these would be the
camboas, in Santiago do Iguape, enclosures made from cipo and wood and installed in the water for the procreation
of some species such as ostra, whose access at times requires a boat.
Regarding health problems, the questionnaire showed a list of 415 cases of non-transmittable chronic diseases (an
average of 3 diseases per person interviewed). It is important to note that the concept of chronic non-transmittable
disease used by the questionnaire, refers to diseases and afflictions related by interviewees as those whose health
problems affected them on a day-to-day basis. In other words, they are health problems that create discomfort with,
and interfere in routine activities, mainly those related to the work of fishing and shellfish harvesting. They are,
therefore, illnesses that require specific attention and care. They become “serious diseases” when, in the perception
of the interviewee, they inhibit them from exercising their daily tasks or put their lives at risk. In this sense, the
gravity of the health problem is measured fundamentally by the degree of interference in working condition.
Subdividing the respondents of the questionnaire by municipality of the spread of the research, 22% of the 50
people interviewed in the two communities of the municipality of Vera Cruz, (Baiacu and Matarandiba) are
affected by some of the diseases considered to be serious. In Cachoeira (Engenho da Cruz and Santiago do Iguape),
of the total of 51 people interviewed, 50% of women and 27% of men related having suffered from serious
illnesses. In Acupe (municipality of Sato Amaro), of a total of 26 respondents, 64% of the women and 50% of the
men complained of the seriousness of their respective illnesses. In summary, of the 127 interviewees, 72 (56%) of
them suffered from two or even three of the diseases considered to be serious, with 22.8% simultaneously reporting
hypertension and problems with vision; 37.8% with hypertension and orthopedic problems, and 30% with vision
problems and orthopedic problems. Orthopedic problems (66%), arterial hypertension (57.5%) and vision problems
(40.2%) are the most recurrent. The orthopedic problems are usually considered to be serious. They occur more
frequently amongst men (33%) than women (15%). In the case of arterial hypertension, also classified as serious, it
is the women who report the greater number of cases. The number of men and women who complain of vision
problems is similar.
For the interviewees, orthopedic problems (especially spinal problems, shoulders, and hands) are associated with
bodily postures resultant from the set of practices related to tasks of collection. These include the removal of
products from the water and mud; the transport, be it the transporting of recently captured goods for value adding
on site or transportation of the already value added products for sale at markets or at the place of residence. There
are also actions associated with value adding to products such as peeling, evisceration, salting, or smoking. These
are activities that demand bodily postures and behaviors that make up the work routines of fishermen, shellfish
harvesters, and other agents involved in the fishing system. In the process of capture, the risks to health are more
evident, such as over exposure to sun, intoxication from the motor fumes of the boat, burns from the heat of the
motor itself, and other dangers of the sea or mangrove. From the perspective of the population, the main cause of
arterial hypertension is due to frequent contact with the salinity of the sea and stressful, risks situations experienced
during fishing, beyond the preoccupations of day-to-day life.
According to the medic and epidemiologist Paulo Pena, “risk factors which contribute to the development of
diseases exist in all phases of the activity of fishing (collection, transport, preparation, and carrying of the
shellfish). These result in: a) excess use of parts of the body most involved in carrying out the operative practices
such as shoulders, spine, hands, and elbows; b) elevated and above average frequency, relative to other referents,
with which fisherman realize their activities (repetitiveness); c) from the biomechanical point of view, traditional
fishermen assume postures inadequate for prolonged periods of time when undertaking their tasks; d) increased
time frames of accelerated rhythms and absence of pauses owing to socioeconomic functions. (…) There is an
intensity of exposure in the work routine, considering that the fishermen work on average 8 to 12 hours a day,
adding up to about 54 hours per week. This condition goes beyond the benchmark of 20 hours per week as a means
of preventing RSI. (…) Despite the workload with intense exposure to ergonomic risk factors, the fishermen
developed osteoneuro-muscular lesions later on, considering that the average fishing career is 38.7 years and
begins precociously at around 5 to 7 years of age. This fact can be attributed to the micro-pauses existent in the
undertaking of operative practices. This does not signify that the fishermen do not present pain symptoms,
especially in the cervical spine, shoulders, and hands, for many years and maintain themselves in activity. (…)
Official data does not exist regarding the prevalence of RSI/DORT in fishermen and shellfish harvesters in Brazil,
which makes the preventative recognition of this infirmity difficult.
A large part of the respondents (40%) point toward work with fish/shellfish, and a lack of medical assistance, as the
main causes for their diseases. There is a belief that chronic illness is a type of inexorable event, whose occurrence
is independent of human intervention as being able to alter it. From the perspective of the interviewees, the
principle problem for chronic illness is in its aggravators: a lack of material resources and deficient conditions in
the health assistance services. These are the two main factors that increase the seriousness of chronic diseases.
From the total of 127 interviewees, 28 (22%) of them considered that an improvement in health, for the population
in general, would depend on the greater availability of employment. That is to say, on other activities which
generate income. The individuals could reduce (or even eliminate) their dependence on fishing work and, with this,
diminish the tendency of acquiring chronic diseases. However, 80% indicated an improvement in the medical
assistance services as the most important factor for achieving good health. For these subjects, improvement of
these services would mainly signify the increase of material resources and the availability of doctors. In the opinion
of 55.7% of the interviewees, the health services of the community where they lived improved in the last ten years.
Encountering a single and defined standard for treatment processes developed by the subjects researched is
problematic. It is necessary to take into consideration that the structure and functioning of the therapeutic system
and the pathways to obtain treatment are two central elements for the definition of the courses of action directed
toward seeking treatment. Such factors are intimately connected, since the difficulties for attaining treatment
depend to a great extent, on the accessibility of the health care system in which the subject participates. Another
important question regards the constitution of the social networks involved in the trajectories of treatment. These
networks assume different arrangements, depending on the specific circumstances and availability of resources,
amongst other aspects.
One of the options for the treatment of health problems is provided by the 'folk' sector of the medical system:
62.2% of those interviewed, know some type of traditional healer where they live and 38% already sought their
services. Asked about the efficiency of the prayers, teas, and directives indicated by the healers: 40.2% positively
evaluated these services; 12.6% believed that it had little effect and 21.2% negatively evaluated the services. Very
few people however, sought out the folk sector for the treatment of chronic non-transmittable diseases.
For the treatment of their diseases, the subjects predominately sought health services offered by the National
Institute of Health Service (SUS) and, in the last instance, undertook low cost exams with private entities located in
the headquarters of the municipalities. Approximately 63% of men and 50% of women interviewed regularly used,
at least once a month, the services of community health centers and units. Around 30% had recourse to at least two
health services: centers and hospitals.
In all of the researched communities, there exist community health care centers and units. These units are
principally used for the acquisition of medications distributed without charge by the SUS. The medical
consultations are usually realized in hospitals. Factors such as a lack of resources, scarcity of healthcare
professionals, and a high turnover of medics (or long intervals of service for general practitioners and specialists in
communities), explain the reduced incidence of use of health services for clinical consultations. The medics and
health professionals at the local units work on a rotating basis, that is to say, they are contracted by the
municipalities and attend once a week or every fifteen days in the communities. There are frequent contractual
problems with the municipal entities, creating in this way discontinuity in the provision of services, and as such, a
reduction in the possibility of accompanying the evolution of the treatment.
The search for treatment in the professional health care sector, in situations of urgency and emergency, usually
require the individual to travel from their community to the outside, even to other municipalities. In these cases, it
is principally the local hospitals in the municipal headquarters which are sought, which are around 30 to 50
kilometers distance from the communities. However, having in mind the deficient character in the number of
professionals and medical equipment of these hospitals, patients in a very serious state are sent to Salvador or other
localities that possess these resources. In this manner, it is necessary to pass through inter-municipal circuits until
medical assistance is encountered, which makes the search for treatment a difficult and expensive task in the local
context. Travel is usually problematic due to the infrastructure of the means of transport and the conditions of the
highways. Owing to this, having in mind the difficulties created for access to treatment, it is necessary for the
patient to plan their expenses, given that two factors are determinant: distance and time. In general, the patient,
requires a companion, at times their partner or a close relative, who is also active in fishing duties.
We can see some common examples of the movements of subjects to obtain health assistance. To leave Baiacu, a
community located on the back coast of the municipality of Vera Cruz, and arrive at the road branching with the
highway BR001, the main road, which cuts along the whole extension of the Island of Itaparica, it is necessary to
cross a sinuous road, asphalted along some stretches, but full of potholes. The route of only 7km takes around 30
minutes until it branches off on the BA-001. From this point until the urban center of Mar Grande, headquarters of
the municipality, it is around 13km, and it takes more than approximately 20 minutes by car. In Mar Grande there
is a Ready Care Unit, (RCU) for urgent, and emergency cases situated in the Maria Amélia Hospital, which also
offers mobile clinical assistance. However, depending on the seriousness of the medical condition, patients are
generally sent to Salvador or to Santo Antônio de Jesus, due to the technical deficiencies of the equipment and lack
of specialists in the city. To arrive in Salvador it is necessary to take a boat, whose trip of 13km takes about 50
minutes. The voyage depends on tides and, in the case of a low tide, the wait can take up to 4 hours. A second
option is getting to Salvador on the ferryboat system. In this case, they would have to go to the Bom despacho
terminal, at 10km distance from Mar Grande. The trip to Salvador is regular and takes about one hour.
The trip becomes even more problematic due to problems of availability of public transport in Baiacu. There is no
regular system of transport for passengers. The local population depends on taxis that, though they have public
concessions are not scheduled, being available only on non-specified days and hours. The most usual means of
transport is private cars that provide carrier services: the motorists wait for a certain number of passengers and
randomly decide when to depart. As such, there is no regular schedule for this service, and in the late afternoons,
rainy days, holidays, or on weekends, it is only possible to find transport with difficulty. The cost is relatively high
for this type of transport, taking into account the distance covered, beyond the uncertain wait time. The fare is
R$3.00 for the stretch from Baiacu to BA-001; to Mar Grande, the fare costs R$6.00. Therefore, a return trip to
Mar Grande is R$18.00. If the destination is Salvador (to the maritime terminal), the cost is twice as much, without
taking into account the expenses for transit within the city. We should also remember that the patient rarely travels
alone. In other words, the value spent for just an individual return trip between Baiacu and Mar Grande,
corresponds to 1.5% of the current minimum salary (2015), or up to half of the value charged for 1kg of siri,
packaged, frozen, shipped, and ready for sale (result of 6kg of siri harvested). It therefore becomes costly to leave
the community and the costs are quite high for the population of fishermen and shellfish harvesters. In this sense,
the effort required to reach health care assistance is something to be duly taken into consideration.
In this respect we can see for example, the travails of D. Jaci in her own search for treatment. The owner of a small
store that sells food, fish, and seafood taken from the sea at Santiago do Iguape (municipality of Cachoeira), Dona
Jaci suffered an AVC in 2013 needing rapid medical assistance. With the health unit closed, her daughter asked a
neighbor for help and was given a lift to Cachoeira. At the São Felix Hospital, she stayed some days in observation
and was transferred, through the intervention of another daughter who is a nursing technician, to the hospital of São
Francisco do Conde, where she received the necessary treatment, needing to be hospitalized in the Intensive Care
Unit. Dona Jaci had difficulty walking with the left leg compromised and required regular physiotherapy sessions.
However, she could only undertake the sessions once a month as the local healthcare unit does not offer
physiotherapy services to attend to cases like hers. In this way, to obtain treatment, Dona Jaci had to go once a
month to the São Francisco do Conde Hospital, 70km from Santiago do Iguape.
The search for medical assistance usually requires the creation of support networks which make treatment viable.
Diverse actors are mobilized in the provision of care. The case of the fishing master of Baiacu, Seu Zé, is
illustrative. A victim of AVC, Seu Zé had the right side of his body paralyzed and partially lost his vision. When he
was overcome by the problem, he had fallen in the bedroom of his home and was unable to stand, subsequently
being assisted by his wife. Almost two hours later, he managed to gain help from a neighbor who had a car and
who offered to take him to the General Hospital of Itaparica, around 50 minutes from Baiacu. During the time that
he was hospitalized, his wife, D. Maria, needed to ask a neighbor to take care of the sale of the fish that were in the
freezer. They also undertook the addresses of the customers. Their neighbor also sold fish and shellfish and,
according to D. Maria’s accusation, ended up taking her customers owing to which they had a falling out. After the
hospitalization, and back at home, the social costs of the health care for Seu continued. Unable to fish, the
family income was significantly reduced. The couple's son had to give up the work that he had in the army, in
Salvador, to help his mother. D. Maria took on some of the activities exercised by her husband, such as taking care
of embarking, normally the domain of the husband, contracting the team of fishermen, mending nets, as well as
selling the fish. The help of family and neighbors is a significant factor as a support network for D. Maria. The
illness of Seu brought significant changes in the status and role that he played at the heart of the family and
community. For example, D. Maria became the provider for the home, who negotiated the business, while her
husband passed his days seated in front of the house, conversing with the locals.
The questions of health in fishing communities are generally significant with the case of ASB seeming to be
expressive in this respect. Beyond the quality of life, and deficiencies in common rights for the country's fishing
population, the fishermen of the ASB currently face changes in the ecosystem due to processes of contamination
resultant from domestic and industrial waste. Such changes threaten not only the production of fish, but also
conditions of health and food security for the fishermen. Orthopedic problems (mainly in the spine), of vision,
cardiovascular, hypertension, and diabetes, are the most frequent problems in fishing communities of ASB.
According to the perspective of this population, these problems are aggravated mainly by the relative
inaccessibility of the healthcare system. In summary, the Brazilian State has not given due consideration to the
rights of the fishing communities. Despite the undeniable achievements in social rights attained by the fishermen
and shellfish harvesters, overwhelmingly due to the action of the Fisherman's and Traditional Fisherman's
Movement (FTM), their current life conditions are particularly difficult and tend to be aggravated given budget
cuts by the government in essential areas such as health, education, and social security. The Decree 8.425,
published in April of 2015, by the President of the Republic, is a significant example, establishing rules for the
definition of the identity of fishermen and traditional fishermen, starting from the ways of functioning and living,
of the fishing communities. The law no. 13.134, of June, 2015, changed the rules of access to the secure-defense.
This may have been motivated by suspicions of irregularity in the registering of fishermen, because according to
this law a fisherman/shellfish harvester is only considered as such when working in the capture of fish. Therefore,
to be able to receive benefits one will have to work in an uninterrupted manner in the activity of fishing, and not
have income from any other source. It is important to note that such mechanisms are connected to a rigorously
regimented conception of fishing, mainly in respect of the capture of the fish, ignoring an essential aspect of the
traditional fishing system: the familial and collective character of this system. As seen above, the practice of
fishing is intimately involved with family histories and in the quotidian life of communities.
We would like to express our thanks to Joseína Tavares, Jaiana Menezes, Flavio Catão, Robson Costa, Rebeca
Cunha e Julia Barata, at the Nucleus of Studies in Social Sciences, Environment, and Health (ECSAS) at the
Federal University of Bahia, to the CNPq for the productivity grant to Paulo Cesar Alves and to FAPESB for the
financial assistance.
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Estuaries are high biological productivity areas. The Patos Lagoon Estuary is the growth, reproduction and feeding area of the most of fish in southern coastline of Brazil. The biggest shallow cove in the estuary zone is Saco do Arraial, it has a particular hydrodynamic, besides, it has been a pre-historical setting of traditional fishing population. Nowadays, various fishing communities work in this cove exploting fishes (Odontesthes argentinensis and Mugil sp), the blue-crab (Callinectes sapidus) mainly the pink-shrimp (Farfantepenaeus paulensis). Among these communities is the Coréia, in Sailor’s Island, the second district of Rio Grande City. This paper aims to describe a fishing territory, the Coréia, from an ethnooceanographyc perspective. From the perspective of the territory as knowledge, not only space, but also time is apropriated; the later constituting ‘memory signs’. For these aims mental maps, open-ended and in-depth semi-structured interviewing, tour technique and participative research have been used. The data collection techniques were used in order to describe the knowledge from environmental forcings that defines territorial appropriation in two levels: communitarian and “pesqueiros”. The data showed that territorial lines are the limits of traditional ecological knowledge. Besides this, three inter annual ecological decision-making settings (decisions concerning fishing technique management) are built according to three environmental forcings (rains, winds and migratory cycle of fish) in relation to fishing technique management. From estuary-biological dynamic built (settings), reconstruct fishing places (‘pesqueiros’) are established ou dismantled, as well as the social relations which arise from them. As a result, the borders of the group territory become flexible.
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