Mangroove area. (Photo: Stock File)
Shrimp producers on tenterhooks due to a new forest code
Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 03:50 (GMT + 9)
As negotiations proceed to define the Forest Code reform, some senators disagree on the current economic use of a part of the exploited mangrove area for shrimp and salt production. The controversy focuses on hypersaline sandy plains, known as apicuns.
The mangroves, including the salt plains, cover an area of 12,000 square kilometers, about eight times the size of San Pablo. Shrimp farms cover about 185 square km.
In 2010, farmed shrimp exports generated revenue for USD 226 million.
The controversy is that if the Forest Code prevents the commercial exploitation of the salt plains, this will have a negative impact on shrimp and salt production in Rio Grande do Norte.
In addition, the economic activity in other northeastern states of Brazil will also be affected.
One possibility is to consider the existing activities and to prevent future economic exploitation in the mangrove areas along the general lines of the reform of the Code.
More than three years ago the Ministry of Environment intended to suspend new permits for the shrimp productive business in the mangroves.
The rule includes the fact that the activities that have already been started in the Permanent Preservation Areas (PPA) should remove the facilities and promote the recovery of the areas.
But that legislation was never fulfilled and producers lobbied lawmakers to continue their operations.
The Government insists that it is not "reasonable" to reduce the protection of the mangroves, ecosystem of which the hypersaline sandy plains form part.
Negotiations get intensified after the Senate deregulated the activities in these areas during the vote of the Forestry Code.
According to the National Committee on Wetlands, the protection of these lands is critical to preserve the water quality and the fertility of the coastal zone, the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo reported.
"The hypersaline sandy plains contribute to the stability and to the productivity of the ecosystem, which are important for fish production and for food safety," the report issued in August reads.
By Analia Murias