Successful ‘fishing for litter’ project extended

BVRio’s successful ‘Fishing for litter project’, run in partnership with Italian social enterprise, Ogyre, has this month entered into a third and expanded phase. The project, which sees fishers in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay swapping their catch of fish, for a catch of waste twice a week, has been expanded to include a third community of ten fishers, plus a coordinator. Over the next 12 months it is expected that 150 tons of waste will be collected from the water and mangroves and either recycled, or appropriately disposed of.

BVRio Circular Economy Specialist, Pedro Succar, has been managing the project since 2021. “We have seen first hand that even without measures in place to stem the tide of waste entering the bay, that it is possible to remove enough waste to witness ecological recovery in the mangroves. This, coupled with the positive economic impact on the fishers themselves, is very encouraging.”

“After the success of the first two phases of the project, when more waste than expected was collected. We’re thrilled to see the project expanded. Today Guanabara Bay, perhaps tomorrow we take on the whole Brazilian coastline!”

The ten new fishers will join the two existing teams of 23 fishers based in fishing colonies on the Island of Ilha do Governador in the bay. Each team dedicates two days a week to the project, topping up their income, which over the years has fallen considerably due to poor fish catches.

Sebastião Nunes de Oliveira, better known as foca, said how he feels to be part of this project, “I have been fishing in Guanabara Bay for thirty years, so I hope the project is successful. We have a committed crew, keen to clean up the Bay to remove the pollution.”

Once recovered, the waste ‘catch’ is logged on the KOLEKT app, developed by BVRio partner Circular Action, specifically for use by informal waste collectors. Once recorded, and independently verified, BVRio issues Circular Credits for the project, purchased in advance by Ogyre, in what is known as a Circular Action Programme.

Antonio Augeri and Andrea Faldella, co-founders of Ogyre commented, “The involvement of local fishing communities in Brazil is a crucial step in the development of Ogyre, not only because it represents the beginning of the process of opening the company beyond the Italian borders , but especially because of the impact of this decision on our mission to clean up the oceans with the help of fishermen: the problem of litter in the sea, in fact, is extremely more significant in Brazil than in European seas. 

“Here our fishermen find really everything in the sea, from mattresses to abandoned televisions. Then there is an equally important social dimension: in fact, these are areas where the contribution that Ogyre pays fishermen for the waste collection activity is equal to the compensation they get during normal fishing days, so much so that the activity becomes, in many cases, a real job to be integrated with normal fishing trips. Thus we have fishermen who, on certain days of the week, only go out to catch marine litter.”