Speak out for Rio's endangered dolphins!

Guiana dolphins Guiana dolphins (© CC BY-SA 2.5)
97,594 supporters

End of campaign: Nov 13, 2016

The petition was delivered to the Brazilian authorities by our partner Sea Shepherd Legal.

The Atlantic off Rio de Janeiro is home to a dwindling population of Guiana dolphins. They urgently need protection – if they continue drowning in fishing nets at the present rate, they will be wiped out in a few short years. Tell Brazil’s policymakers that the world is looking toward Rio and demands an end to the killing. 

Call to action

To: the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources; State Institute of the Environment; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Federal Police – Ministry of Justice, Rio de Janeiro Port Authority

Put a stop to the fishing industry’s indiscriminate killing of Guiana dolphins off Rio de Janeiro.

Read letter

An environmental tragedy is unfolding in the waters off Rio de Janeiro. In an average month, ten Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) drown in fishing nets in Sepetiba Bay. Noise from ships, pollution and overfishing are further threats. At this rate, the local population of around 800 dolphins could be wiped out in the foreseeable future.

No one knows exactly how threatened the Guiana dolphins are as a species – their habitat theoretically extends from Nicaragua to southern Brazil. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which publishes the Red List of endangered species, not enough data is available to assess their status.

While the boto-cinza, as the dolphins are known locally, are a symbol of Rio and feature on its coat of arms, the city has done nothing to ensure their protection.

Social movements and environmentalists have been casting a harsh light on Brazil and the Olympics: the city of Rio de Janeiro has displaced people for the games, built a golf course in a nature reserve and failed to put sewage treatment plants into operation – letting raw sewage flow into the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay, the venue of the Olympic sailing competition. The athletes will soon return home, but the dolphins’ struggle for survival will keep grinding on.

The environmental NGO Sea Shepherd Legal has launched a petition to protect the Guiana dolphins in Sepetiba Bay. It calls for policymakers and local authorities to enact a wide range of measures to ensure their survival. Please give it your support.

Back­ground

The full text of the Sea Shepherd Legal petition

Dear agency officials,

I am writing to urge you to take the steps enumerated below to protect the remaining population of Guiana dolphins in Rio de Janiero. Rio’s dolphin population is the key source population for the Guiana dolphin species as a whole. If you do not act now, the species will become extinct.

There is a reason why Guiana dolphins are featured on Rio’s flag, securing its coat of arms. It is because these dolphins are regal and strong, much like Brazil has been throughout its history.

But Guiana dolphins face significant hurdles to survive and maintain a viable presence, at a time when Rio should be celebrating its vibrant heritage during the Olympics.

Since 2003, Rio’s Guiana dolphin numbers have dropped by an alarming 40%. Nearly 10 Guiana dolphins are killed every month in fishing nets in the Bay of Sepetiba, in Rio. With less than 800 remaining, this population will be gone in a few short years.

In addition to incidental capture by commercial fishermen, the decline is caused by pollution, overfishing of the dolphin’s prey species, decreased habitat, increased ship traffic, port development, and other industrial and urban development in coastal areas.

Your agencies carry the responsibility to address these threats. Together with Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors office, I urge you to take the following actions that fall within your respective jurisdictions:

(1) Create a coalition police force to monitor and respond to illegal and excessive fishing, with mandatory patrols in Sepetiba Bay every week;

(2) Prepare a technical study by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources to verify the need for changes in fishing practices and regulations in the Sepetiba Bay/Ilha Grande region;

(3) Form a new group under the auspices of the State Institute of the Environment for the purpose of reassessing mitigation measures to improve conditions for conservation.  To add credibility to this group, the federal prosecutors have requested the participation of the Instituto Boto Cinza;

(4) Draft a new plan by the State Institute of the Environment to promote community-based tourism as an alternative source of income for local fishermen;

(5) Immediately cease any additional licensing by the State Institute of the Environment that could cause harm to the dolphins and their habitat, pending additional scientific study; and

(6) Prohibit, by the port authority in Rio de Janeiro, the anchoring of vessels in the dolphins’ favored areas of concentration.

I understand that Brazil faces many struggles. With recent unfavorable international news reports about its leadership, and criticisms about its preparations for the Olympics, Brazil –- particularly Rio –- is in the world spotlight. Brazil’s actions (and inactions) are being scrutinized.

The actions we urge you to take above would not only save the Guiana dolphin from extinction –- it would also change the public sentiment about Brazil, and ensure that Brazil remains a respected player on the world stage.

The international community is watching in horror as Mexico’s vaquita porpoise edges closer to extinction due to unscrupulous fishing practices and prior government inaction. The government of Mexico has now stepped in to save the vaquita, but it is likely too little, too late. Do not let that be your legacy too.

Please take action now to protect the Guiana dolphin.

Letter

To: the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources; State Institute of the Environment; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Federal Police – Ministry of Justice, Rio de Janeiro Port Authority

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am writing to urge you to take the steps enumerated below to protect the remaining population of Guiana dolphins in Rio de Janiero. Rio’s dolphin population is the key source population for the Guiana dolphin species as a whole. If you do not act now, the species will become extinct.

Since 2003, Rio’s Guiana dolphin numbers have dropped by an alarming 40%. Nearly 10 Guiana dolphins are killed every month in fishing nets in the Bay of Sepetiba, in Rio. With less than 800 remaining, this population will be gone in a few short years.

In addition to incidental capture by commercial fishermen, the decline is caused by pollution, overfishing of the dolphin’s prey species, decreased habitat, increased ship traffic, port development, and other industrial and urban development in coastal areas.

Your agencies carry the responsibility to address these threats. Together with Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors office, I urge you to take the following actions called for by the NGO Sea Shepherd Legal. I hereby expressly support their call to action:

1. Create a coalition police force to monitor and respond to illegal and excessive fishing, with mandatory patrols in Sepetiba Bay every week;

2. Prepare a technical study by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources to verify the need for changes in fishing practices and regulations in the Sepetiba Bay/Ilha Grande region;

3. Form a new group under the auspices of the State Institute of the Environment for the purpose of reassessing mitigation measures to improve conditions for conservation. To add credibility to this group, the federal prosecutors have requested the participation of the Instituto Boto Cinza;

4. Draft a new plan by the State Institute of the Environment to promote community-based tourism as an alternative source of income for local fishermen;

5. Immediately cease any additional licensing by the State Institute of the Environment that could cause harm to the dolphins and their habitat, pending additional scientific study; and

6. Prohibit, by the port authority in Rio de Janeiro, the anchoring of vessels in the dolphins’ favored areas of concentration.

The actions we urge you to take above would not only save the Guiana dolphin from extinction – it would also change the public sentiment about Brazil, and ensure that Brazil remains a respected player on the world stage.

Please take action now to protect the Guiana dolphin.

Sincerely,