“How easy and important it is to live with nature”
April 20, 2012 | One Comment
In 2004, a couple of thoughtful citizens stepped up to bring an end to bomb fishing in Brazil. Eight years and several projects later and they haven’t lost their charge.
Bomb fishing devastates underwater ecosystems. It involves using ammunition, dynamite, or chemical bombs to stun fish so that they float to the surface. The technique is attractive because it offers a simple way to bring in a large catch.
Of course, it is completely unsustainable. With every bomb, the habitat for future fishing is further destroyed.
Eight years ago, a husband and wife team set out to stop this destructive practice along their home island in Bahia, Brazil. Carlos and Gabi formed a grassroots organization, Canto Ecologico, and began to teach their community of Cacha Pregos “how easy and important it is to live in balance with nature.”
Nearly a decade since they began, Canto Ecologico has diversified its mission. Bomb fishing may have been their original motivation, but it wasn’t the only problem they saw in Cacha Pregos. Inadequate resources, illiterate populations, and unsustainable living habits all needed to be addressed.
Focusing on the future, Carlos and Gabi built a library in their home for local children to learn about the environment: “We’re planting, today, the environmental awareness so they can teach the adults at home…and become better adults themselves.”
To date, the lives of more than 400 children have been enriched by this resource.
The couple is also exploring more direct ways to end the bomb fishing and shrimp aquaculture industries that threaten the island’s mangrove ecosystems. They continue to mobilize press to bring publicity to the issue while campaigning for a more progressive and proactive mayor in the upcoming elections. Despite set backs, they have made progress: as few as three bombs explode off the coast every month, and several arrests have been made.
Still, the couple remains electric in their campaign to protect the local environment. Never deterred and always creative, Canto Ecologico is a bright spot in an otherwise “dirty” environment, where many seek to exploit this paradise.
In everything they do, Carlos and Gabi look to the future: “We believe that the serious environmental problems can only be solved by the children as they represent the future. It is very difficult to educate adults that our vibrant natural world should be preserved. It is a cultural issue of a lack of respect for the natural environment that transcends generations.”
Most recently, the couple opened a small school to expand their environmental education program and better serve the youth of Cacha Pregos. Their four year-old daughter, Mel, is one of the students.
And as if parenting hasn’t put enough on their plates, with the library still in operation and active campaigns to protect the mangroves underway, somehow Carlos and Gabi still find time to celebrate Earth Day: “We will have a simple but fun Earth Day, cleaning up all the marine litter and [placing] more garbage bins at the beach to help people keep it clean.”
This Earth Day, join Carlos and Gabi in doing your part to keep this planet healthy.
Get involved in Aveda Earth Month and help support clean water projects across the globe.
Check out Earth Day Network to find local opportunities to get involved.