In Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay, the lack of fish due to high levels of water pollution has driven fishermen to go from fishing to cleaning the ocean.
The project involves 25 fishermen's families and is promoted by Ogyre, an Italian enterprise dedicated to cleaning oceans, and the Brazilian environmental organization BVRio Institute.
Circular economy expert at BVRio Pedro Mendes told Reuters that besides having an environmental impact, the project also helps local fishermen who have seen their trade affected by the polluted waters.
“Before it was wonderful. In your front door, you could catch plenty of shrimp and fish. Today, to catch fish you need to travel far. You need to buy gas for a boat like this and it’s expensive to come here,” 47-year-old Francinaldo Alves da Silva said.
“If you see the sea 50 years ago and the one that exists now, it’s horrible! Nowadays people aren't conscious. They throw anything that doesn't work in the sea. They think the sea is a dump. The sea is not a dump. The sea is how we all survive. The fish and turtles have freedom, without trash,” another fisherman Ayton Rodrigues Martins said.
Through the initiative, for two days of work, the fishermen are paid above the minimum wage.
This is the project’s second phase. It is expected to last 12 months during which organizers hope 100 tonnes of trash will be collected.