We'd like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest. This study analyzed the knowledge of fishermen from three municipal areas of Bahia in northeast Brazil regarding the behavior repertoire of sharks and the possible influence that these perceptions may have on the inclination to preserve these animals. This is a pioneering study on the ethnobiological aspects of elasmobranchs in Brazil.

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We'd like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest. This study analyzed the knowledge of fishermen from three municipal areas of Bahia in northeast Brazil regarding the behavior repertoire of sharks and the possible influence that these perceptions may have on the inclination to preserve these animals.

This is a pioneering study on the ethnobiological aspects of elasmobranchs in Brazil. Open, semi-structured interviews with shark fishing specialists were conducted between September and October The data were analysed with quantitative approach and conducted with the use of descriptive statistical techniques.

Sixty-five fishermen were interviewed. Because they identify sharks as predators, the detailed recognition of the behaviours exhibited is crucial both for an efficient catch and to avoid accidents.

Therefore, this knowledge is doubly adaptive as it contributes to safer, more lucrative fishing. The Elasmobranchii subclass comprises cartilaginous fish, with species of sharks described [ 1 ]. Due to their numerous adaptive specializations developed over million years [ 2 ], sharks stand out as one of the main predators at the top of the food chain in marine environments [ 3 ].

As a consequence, they make an extraordinary contribution to the balance of marine ecosystems [ 4 , 5 ], both by controlling the prey population or by exerting evolutionary pressure as they consume old and sick animals [ 6 ]. Global initiatives to conserve elasmobranchs are still modest and not very effective when compared to the degree of threat to which the populations of these animals are exposed [ 7 ]. On a global scale, fishing stands as the primary threat to sharks, which are caught at an annual rate of between 63 and million individuals [ 8 ].

Eighty-eight shark species [ 11 ] have been recorded in the Brazilian coast, of which 12 are threatened with extinction and eight are overexploited or threatened with overexploitation. In spite of being one of the primary sharks biodiversity hotspots in the world [ 12 ], historically Brazil has never implemented public policies for the conservation of this group, and this has culminated in fisheries being driven to the point of collapse without any protective measures being taken [ 13 ].

However, the decrease in abundance of shark populations resulting from overexploitation causes negative social impacts on fishing communities in Northeast Brazil, as shark meat has been for centuries an important source of protein for these populations [ 14 ]. Studies for the conservation of fishing resources are generally based on the biological assessment of stocks.

The quantitative methods used for these researches have been developed for application in temperate regions, where industrial fishing exploits a small number of abundant species with long historical series of information available [ 15 ]. Contrary to this, artisanal fishing in tropical countries is frequently much more complex: a large variety of fishing gear are used, a large diversity of species are caught that are generally individually scarce in numbers, and numerous landing points and many production chains are employed [ 16 ].

Therefore Sparre and Venema [ 15 ], highlight that the methods used to assess artisanal fishing stocks must be adequate to situations in which data are limited, and so the use of many sources of quantitative and qualitative information should be maximized, together with the traditional knowledge of fishermen.

The feasibility of preserving fishing resources in Brazil is connected with the need to consolidate a fishing management and study model that takes into consideration both fishing characteristics and human needs [ 17 ]. It is clear that Brazilian institutions concerned with research and management of natural environments are faced with the challenge of proposing new conservation alternatives based on an ethnoconservationist model that benefits the maintenance of natural biodiversity and cultural diversity [ 18 ].

Marine ethnobiology focuses on studies about the relationships between human societies and the marine Biota of oceanic ecosystems [ 19 ]. Native human populations in coastal areas present a wide gamut of knowledge and adaptations qualifying them to survive in these environments [ 20 , 21 ]. It is necessary to study and understand in detail such adaptations and incorporate it into strategies for the coastal areas management, contributing to protect 2.

To accomplish this incorporation, one possibility is to combine the knowledge of both the policy makers and the natural resources users, such as the fishing communities [ 23 ]. According to Johannes, Freeman and Hamilton [ 24 ], fishermen can provide scientists with relevant information about the distribution, diet, reproduction, behaviour, abundance and indications of fish overexploitation.

This study aims to analyse the fishermen knowledge regarding shark behaviours, as well as their perception concerning the management and conservation of these animals. We believe we could contribute to a better understanding of the human-sharks interactions and, consequently, strengthen recent initiatives for the conservation of these animals in the country.

The state of Bahia, in the northeast Brazil, has 1, kilometres of coastal area, divided into 44 municipal areas containing at least fishing communities [ 26 ]. The southern coast of the state is home to some of the most extensive coral formations of the Southwest Atlantic Ocean, the Abrolhos Bank. This fact contributes to the rich diversity of fish species in the Brazilian coast, with more than recorded species [ 27 ].

The Abrolhos Bank is located at about kilometres far from the study area and encompasses coral reefs, volcanic islands, shallow banks and channels, covering an area of approximately 6, square kilometres. It is an extension of the eastern Brazilian continental shelf, and is quite shallow where the reefs are located [ 28 ], less than 30 meters.

In this region, fishing in the reef zones of the continental shelf is an age-old activity of high cultural and economic relevance [ 29 ], in spite of being little known or documented [ 30 ]. Map of the study area, highlighting the communities where the interviews were conducted. It is a federal MPA that includes the territories of the municipalities of Una, Canavieiras and Belmonte and has a total area of , The CER is part of the marine and coastal biomes and was implemented on 05 June [ 32 ].

It has an active Executive Board whose members work to approve a management plan and the hiring of a Civil Society Organization of Public Interest OSCIP , a public interest non-governmental organization, to co-manage it [ 33 ]. The CER has had a fishing agreement in force since , establishing rules for the sustainable use of fishing resources. However, this document does not include rules of use for elasmobranchs.

A form was prepared for this purpose, containing general questions regarding fishing in the region and specific aspects involving shark fishing knowledge, such as fishing fleet, the fishing gear involved, fish behaviour repertoire, and the subjective feelings of fishermen arising from their perceptions about different behaviours. All interviews were recorded with a digital recorder. We used the method of checklist interview [ 36 ] in order to make the taxonomic correspondence between the names used in the Linnean systematics and those cited by our informers for the shark species caught in the study area.

For doing that, interviews were conducted through visual stimulation with a set of 30 printed pictures of different species of shark that inhabit Bahia seashore, using two of them for study control [ 30 , 37 , 38 ].

Some of the photos used were downloaded from the site Fishbase [ 39 ] and others from sites with stock images for scientific purposes. To record fishermen ichthyological knowledge, we used the model of integrating various individual competencies [Hays apud [ 40 ], in which all information supplied are taken into account. The quantitative approach was conducted with the use of descriptive statistical techniques. The controls consisted of tests to verify the consistency and validity of the answers, resorting to repeated interviews in synchronous situations, when the same question was asked to different persons with a short time interval between them [ 40 ].

When the same information was repeated by the majority of informers, these were taken as memes [ 41 ], which are the shortest verifiable pieces of cultural information, like self-duplicating entities that can be passed on within a certain population by way of speaking [ 42 ]. The adoption of a relatively small amount of citations is due to the extensive phenotypic similarity among the species of sharks caught by Bahia fishermen and the highly diverse popular names they use to classify these animals [ 43 ].

Seventy-one male shark fishing specialists were identified; however, five declined to take part in the study and one was not found.

Eight of the interviewed fishermen are retired. This initiation resulted in school evasion, which in turn can explain the high level of illiteracy We found that a large majority All vessels involved in shark fishing are licensed to catch fish, and Their typological profile is as follows: The primary construction material is wood, present in Even today, the construction of rafts remains as described by Forman [ 45 ].

In relation to the propulsion system utilized, In relation to fishery areas, a high amplitude was registered in the bathymetry with the depth ranging between 3 and meters, and in the distance from the coast ranging from 0. Concerning the technological instrumentation, we observed that On the other hand, there are compasses in Other studies about Bahia artisanal fishermen have shown a perception of seasonal models similar to those observed in the present study [ 41 , 46 , 47 ].

The fishermen who participated in the study, separated fish in three different ethnocategories, according to the temporal succession of ethnospecies throughout the year. However, this gear is not the only that catch sharks in South Bahia, because sharks are also incidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, cast nets, beach seine nets and fishing rods, both along the coast and offshore.

However, the fishermen involved with these types of captures are not specialists in shark fishing. In fact, the hand line figures the major gear in Bahia and is responsible for a significant part of fish production in the state [ 49 ], as it enables the redirection of fishing effort throughout the year, optimizing the exploitation of the species diversity. Gillnet are used in The length of the nets ranges from 50 to meters meters, on average.

The height of the nets varies from 2 to 7 meters. The nets may be used on the water surface or near the substratum, and usually are checked by the fishermen once or twice per day to verify if any fish was caught.

Six informers reported having recovered lost nets, indicating that these nets are harmful as the fish as the get tangled in the equipment attracting other animals, including sharks which come to the net to eat opportunistically.

The informers say that in the first case the capture of sharks is less likely, since the hooks are often tied directly to nylon lines. The bottom longline makes feasible the capture of sharks because the hooks are tied to stainless steel cable straps. Regardless the type, the length of the longline may vary from two to six nautical miles and each of the fishing net contains 50 to 1, hooks. Respondents informed that the longlines are put on water early in the morning and are collected late in the afternoon.

They often complain about foreign boats from other regions of Brazil with large trawl nets exterminate the local fish resources and harm the regional economy. They are composed of a thick cotton rope, and in one end have an iron anchor weighing kilograms, and in the other end a 2-meter-long steel cable is fixed to a stainless steel hook measuring 20 centimetres and weighing one kilogram. There are fishermen in the region using this type of opportunistically fishing to complement the fishing of bony fish.

This type of fishing, despite having always occurred in the region, has increased since , motivated by the high prices of shark fins that according Fong and Anderson [ 51 ] are one of the most expensive animal products in the international market. It is fundamental that fishermen recognize the ethological repertoire of fish species caught, as information of this nature is essential for fishing success [ 35 , 44 ].

In this sense, Cordell [ 52 ] states that fishing is not a matter of luck but an understanding of the pattern behaviour of targeted species. Regionally, in regard to sharks, this understanding is necessary not only for a more efficient catch, but especially as a way to avoid accidents due to the force, speed and violence with which these animals react when they feel imprisoned by the fishing gear.

Therefore, it is possible to say that knowledge involving the ethological repertoire of sharks has a doubly adaptive character because it contributes towards more profitable, safer fishing.

In this sense, it is known that the fishermen from the community called Gamboa in Rio de Janeiro Brazil have a more accurate perception of the behaviour of sharks, since their interaction with these fish represents a greater risk of accidents [ 53 ]. In fact, sharks have long provoked terror in human beings due to the ferocity and morbidity of some species [ 54 ]. Fishermen regard sharks as having unique characteristics in relation to other captured fish.

With regard to the repertoire of shark behaviours, local fishermen understand that a variety of factors, whether natural e. Feeding behaviours are distributed among ten ethological ethnocategories. The most relevant aspect of shark interspecific relations involves their feeding habits [ 60 ]. Unfortunately, due to the inherent difficult of studying elasmobranchs in their natural environment, their predatory behaviours are little known by science, especially when compared with those of finfish [ 61 ].

Local fishermen usually refer to sharks as predators, with the majority This meme indicates that sharks are recognized by fishermen as top predators in marine food webs, although in a peculiar manner. When questioned regarding whether sharks are important elements of marine environments, This sort of argument is exemplified as follows:. It does exterminate them, so it is in control. This signals a favourable predisposition of fishermen toward preserving these animals, as well as potential success for initiatives to sensitize these social actors to the ecological and social relevance of managing shark populations adequately.


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Erweiterte Suche. Springer Medizin. Wichtige Hinweise. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article doi: Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interest. AS, DTA and EMCN wrote parts of the manuscript, helped in the preparation of the interview form, contributed ideas to the study, and aided in the discussion and review of the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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“Shark is the man!”: ethnoknowledge of Brazil’s South Bahia fishermen regarding shark behaviors

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