Of all the paths we have crossed in our experience, the trap net is one of the most remarkable ones. The technique, introduced by Japanese immigrants in the early 20th century, is still used by many coastal families who live in Ilha Grande Bay. According to research carried out by the Rio de Janeiro State Fishing Foundation Institute (FIPERJ), there are around 84 points in the region – 57 in Paraty, 25 in Angra dos Reis and 2 in Mangaratiba.
The technique consists of a net affixed in a spot at sea close to the shore. The device opening allows for the fish to enter, but not to come out. Workers visit the net twice or three times a day to harvest the fish. As they are kept alive until they are pulled by the net, the ones who do not reach the desired size are released. Sometimes entire schools of fish are released because they haven’t being fully-grown. This selective method ensures sustainability of the practice.
Although it seems simple, there are specificities to the trap net known only to experts. Crafting the net is a technique very few get to master. The Japanese passed their knowledge on to a few fishing mates, who in turn transmitted the secrets of this intricate craft on to other few.
Trap net is a type of teamwork that requires five to eight people. In Provetá (Ilha Grande), Domingos and his daughters pull the net. In Trindade (Paraty), however, both work and profits are divided among the community. Trap net spots are worked in rounds between three or more people. When one fisherman’s trap net is under water, other trap’s owners work as crew, and vice-versa. This particular aspect has been highlighted recently in a publication by FIPERJ, “Cerco Fixo Flutuante – uma arte de pesca sustentável” (Anchored floating net – a sustainable fishing craft). The book is part of an amplified role taken on by the institute, which aims to contribute to, and foster o acknowledgement of the technique by competent bodies. “Although it has been in practice for almost a century, anchored floating net is not protected by legal instruments, excluding fishermen of public development policies, deprived of their rights to fish and use this model as a professional activity”, André Araújo, biologist in charge of the project, highlights.
Download of the publication is available at FIPERJ website and IPEMAR website, in Portuguese only. (Click here)
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