Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd Legal is teaming up with Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors office and local NGOs to urge Brazilian government agencies to protect the endangered Guiana Dolphin in Rio de Janeiro’s Bay of Sepetiba.
The dolphin is displayed on Rio’s flag, yet pride in the animal hasn’t translated into effective conservation.
According to Sea Shepherd, the Guiana population has decreased by 40 percent since 2003 (although other sources say there is a lack of data to accurate estimate population trends) and is continuously threatened by net fishing, illegal fishing operations, pollution, food and habitat loss and other stressors.
Sea Shepherd hopes that the global spotlight focused on Brazil surrounding the Olympic games and related scandals will incentivize the government to take actions to save the Guiana, which they say will bring much needed positive media attention to the country.
In a recent petition – directed at the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Resources, the Rio de Janeiro Port Authority, the Federal Police Ministry of Justice and other government institutions – Sea Shepherd insisted the Agencies increase police presence in and around the Bay of Sepetiba; conduct a research study to support the need for changes in fishing regulations; investigate conservation measures; create tourism opportunities to provide fisherman with alternative livelihood opportunities; stop issuing permits for new maritime ventures that could harm the dolphins; and restrict anchoring in their habitats.
The watchdogs of the sea warn Brazilian authorities that if they don’t act soon the Guiana – which according to recent estimates still has a population of over a thousand of individuals – could meet the unfortunate fate of the vaquita porpoise, which scientists believe has a dwindled to less than 60 animals.
Sea Shepherd is also working with Mexican Authorities and other allies to save the vaquita from extinction in the Sea of Cortez. Earlier this month, the conservation group helped influence the Mexican government to permanently ban the fishing nets that snarl the endangered cetaceans.