SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 16, September 2016 - Page 29

eep sea oceanic fishing is a controversial activity in many circles though it is important to note dramatic increase in

concerned fishermen and stakeholders regarding the welfare of populations and future generations. Oceanic fishing in this manner is sure to impress anyone involved whether as a fisherman or simply a witness. Connecting with some of these amazing creatures in the vast blue is unparalleled when confronted with their unquestionable beauty and power. Fantastic colors you seem to never see on land, only in the sea and in the sky.

In southeastern Brazil anglers look for some of the most desirable species: billfishes. These fishes play a major ecological role, as they are top predators, as well as sharks. They migrate great distances coming from the Caribbean and North America and from November to January are concentrated in Brazilian waters from the south of Bahia State to the coast of São Paulo.

The species in the South Atlantic are blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), white marlin (Kajikia albida), longbill spearfish (Tetrapturus pfluegeri) e round scale spearfish (Tetrapturus georgii), all belonging to the Istiophoridae family; in addition to swordfish (Xiphias gladius), sole representative of the Xiphiidae family. In Brazilian oceanic fishing the most common species are sailfish, blue marlin and white marlin.

Every year anglers participate in fishing tournaments where the billfish ensures the highest score. There was a time that the fishes were killed much more frequently, but fortunately nowadays what we see is just the opposite. During the championships the effort of the fisherman is more than visible and there is a team or participants to release the animal quickly and effectively. This not only offers more revenue, fishing time, and competitiveness to the team, but causes less stress and fatigue to fish, dramatically reducing the damage it could suffer during the fight and possible post-release mortality. The use of circular hooks is a practice far less invasive and qualifying the activity under a sustainable point of view.

Despite growing awareness and measures for the survival of the fish, a careful behavior when we think about the conservation of these and other species it is still desirable. The scientific data on the capture of billfishes in recent decades is not encouraging. It is important to remember that commercial fishing also exploite them as a fishing resource, and worse yet, they are targets due to low selectivity of some fishing equipment. In Brazil the marketing of white marlin and blue marlin is prohibited.

Photographing the fish during their migration, hunts, and incredible jumps is another beautiful experience that deep sea oceanic fishing provides. I look for with my images to draw attention to how these fishes are beautiful, fast, agile and strong. Fortunately fishermen appreciate the beauty of these majestic creatures and they actively contribute to scientific research. Billfishes are some of the valuable jewels that still shine in our vast Atlantic!

Biologist, Master of Science in Fishery Biology and Nature Photographer. It all started in 2011 when I traveled to South Africa for the first time and found a new way to contemplate the beauty of nature: through lenses. I had just graduated biologist and since then I started studying photography. Photography is one of the best tools for Conservation and as a Nature Photographer, I’m glad to take this responsibility. Now my mission is to share great moments and the treasures of nature with people. My images have been used for scientific purposes, newspapers, magazines and the documentary The Great White Shark Legend (Directed by Ricardo Lacombe, 2014), filmed in False Bay, South Africa.

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