Brazil

Brazil joined the IWC as a contracting government in 1974. In Brazil, more than forty cetacean species have been identified. Brazil has the world's 16th longest national coastline, measuring 7,491 kilometres. The Atlantic Ocean runs along the entire coast. Brazil profile on Whale Watching Handbook

  • Brazil Whale Watching

    Country: Brazil
    Section:  Legal developments
    Theme: Whale watching
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    Act No. 444/2014 of the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil determines the "Official National List of Endangered Fauna," including mammals.

    Currently Federal Law 7643/87 forbids the hunting and harassment of cetaceans in Brazilian waters and the Edict 117/96 (modified by the Edict 24/2002) established the whale watching regulations.

    A new National Conservation Action Plans (NAPs) for small and large cetaceans is being developed. 

    Act No. 444/2014 of the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil determines the "Official National List of Endangered Fauna," including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial invertebrates, and indicates the degree of extinction risk of each species.  This offers certain protections to the species with endangered or threatened status.

    Currently Federal Law 7643/87 forbids the hunting and harassment of cetaceans in Brazilian waters and the Edict 117/96 (modified by the Edict 24/2002) established the whale watching regulations.  According to this Edict all vessels operating in Brazilian jurisdictional waters are forbidden to: 
    approach any whale species (cetaceans of the order Mysticeti, sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus, and orca Orcinus orca) closer than 100 meters of the nearest animal, with engines operating.  Engines must be in neutral when approaching humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae, and turned off or in neutral for other species;  resume engine operation to depart from the whale only after clearly sighting the whale(s) at the surface, or in a distance of at least 50 meters from the vessel; chase any whale, with engine operating, for more than 30 minutes, even when respecting the above mentioned distances; interrupt the path of any cetacean of any species, or try to direct or alter its movement;  intentionally penetrate a group of cetaceans of any species, dividing or dispersing it; make excessive noises, such as music, any kind of percussion, or others beyond those generated by the normal operation of the vessel, when less than 300m from any cetacean;  dump overboard any sort of detritus, substance or materials when less than 500m from any cetaceans, in addition to all other pollutant dumping prohibitions contained in the laws; approach an individual or group of whales if approached by at least two other vessels at the same time In September 2000, the right whales’ primary habitat in Santa Catarina was protected by the Right Whale Environmental Protection Area (EPA).  This area is now an the focus of right whale conservation and research, with certain sections of the area closed to tourism and others well managed and regulated.

    The Brazilian National Sanctuary of Whales and Dolphins was created in 2008. New regulations drafted by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation are awaiting official publication. These aim to establish more rigorous guidelines and procedures for the authorization and development of activities involving intentional interactions with cetaceans and manatees in Brazilian jurisdictional waters.

    A new National Conservation Action Plans (NAPs) for small and large cetaceans is under development, with a view to finding solutions and proposals to address conservation concerns, such as:

    • Creating more targeted and specific legal instruments to regulate the whale watching activity at a national level; Improving monitoring and supervision of whale watching tour operators and activity; Establishing environmental licensing and/or tour operator certification systems for whale watching activity;
    • Improving capacity building for the development of whale watching activity; Establishing exclusion areas along the Brazilian coast, as in the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha and in the coast of Santa Catarina State; Requiring whale-watch operators to contribute to conservation and research through data-sharing on target species, and partnerships with universities and research institutions.
    • The government, in partnership with the Federal Conservation Units, will also be initiating a campaign to promote land-based whale watching. This approach has the advantage of being freely accessible to a greater number of people than the boat-based observation, as well as eliminating the risk of disturbance to the target species.  
    External URL: https://www.icmbio.gov.br/cma/legislacao.html
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  • Brazil cetacean conservation

    Country: Brazil
    Section: Current Government programs related to cetacean conservation
    Theme: Bycatch, Strandings
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    The government funds projects regarding the conservation of the franciscana dolphin, these projects should provide important new information on bycatch levels and estimates of abundance for the entire distribution range of the species in Brazil.

    Since 2016 several national research projects promoting research and conservation of franciscana dolphins have been supported by Brazil, mostly through a Federal-funding program managed by Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente (FUNBIO). These projects are underway in three areas known as Franciscana Management Areas (FMAs Ia, Ib, and III).

    In addition, a proposal for another management area (FMA II) is under consideration. These projects are focusing on

    1. monitoring stranding rates and fishing fleets to estimate franciscana mortality and
    2. aerial surveys to estimate abundance.

    Collectively these projects should provide important new information on bycatch levels and estimates of abundance for the entire distribution range of the species in Brazil.

    External URL: https://www.funbio.org.br/en/programas_e_projetos/franciscana-conservation/
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  • Brazil cetacean conservation

    Country: Brazil
    Section: Current Government programs related to cetacean conservation
    Theme: Bycatch, Strandings
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    The government funds projects regarding the conservation of the franciscana dolphin, these projects should provide important new information on bycatch levels and estimates of abundance for the entire distribution range of the species in Brazil.

    Since 2016 several national research projects promoting research and conservation of franciscana dolphins have been supported by Brazil, mostly through a Federal-funding program managed by Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente (FUNBIO). These projects are underway in three areas known as Franciscana Management Areas (FMAs Ia, Ib, and III).

    In addition, a proposal for another management area (FMA II) is under consideration. These projects are focusing on

    1. monitoring stranding rates and fishing fleets to estimate franciscana mortality and
    2. aerial surveys to estimate abundance.

    Collectively these projects should provide important new information on bycatch levels and estimates of abundance for the entire distribution range of the species in Brazil.

    External URL: https://www.funbio.org.br/en/programas_e_projetos/franciscana-conservation/
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  • Brazil Protected Areas

    Country: Brazil
    Section: Current threats to cetacean conservation and management measures taken/proposed
    Theme: Sanctuaries and protected areas
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    The government of Brazil established two large Federal Marine Protected Areas in 2018, including the two most remote islands of the national territory - the São Pedro and São Paulo archipelagos - and also the chain of submarine mountains that connects the Brazilian continental shelf to the Trindade and Martin Vaz Archipelago. The two MPAs together cover an area of 92.6 million hectares, of which 81.1 million hectares correspond to areas of sustainable use and 11.5 million hectares correspond to protection, the equivalent of the combined territories of France and Germany.

    Regarding the protection of coastal areas, it is important to mention a new reserve created in Maranhão called Baía do Tubarão Extractive Reserve. This MPA was established to protect a complex of bays, rivers and estuaries.

    The Brazilian National Sanctuary of Whales and Dolphins was created in 2008. 

    The government of Brazil established two large Federal Marine Protected Areas in 2018, including the two most remote islands of the national territory - the São Pedro and São Paulo archipelagos - and also the chain of submarine mountains that connects the Brazilian continental shelf to the Trindade and Martin Vaz Archipelago. The two MPAs together cover an area of 92.6 million hectares, of which 81.1 million hectares correspond to areas of sustainable use and 11.5 million hectares correspond to protection, the equivalent of the combined territories of France and Germany.

    Regarding the protection of coastal areas, it is important to mention a new reserve created in Maranhão called Baía do Tubarão Extractive Reserve. This MPA was established to protect a complex of bays, rivers and estuaries.

    The Brazilian National Sanctuary of Whales and Dolphins was created in 2008. 

    External URL: https://www.gov.br/mma/pt-br/assuntos/areasprotegidasecoturismo
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  • Brazil cetacean conservation

    Country: Brazil
    Section: Reporting systems for cetacean injuries/mortality/strandings
    Theme: Strandings
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    The National Stranding Network coordinated by ICMBio has been working along the Brazilian coast to evaluate and record cetacean stranding rates and cumulative effects of anthropogenic activities on these animals. 

    The National Stranding Network coordinated by ICMBio has been working along the Brazilian coast to evaluate cetacean stranding rates and cumulative effects of anthropogenic activities on these animals. A national database was developed to store the collected information providing the possibility to integrate data (in terms of space and time) and improve the evaluation of threats, as well as support both conservation planning and management actions.

    External URL: https://www.icmbio.gov.br/cma/o-que-fazemos/monitoramento/remab.html
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  • Brazil agreements

    Country: Brazil
    Section: International cooperation activities
    Theme: Conservation Management plans
    Date started:
    Date ended:
    Status: Active

    The Brazilian government is a party to multilateral cetacean agreements, such as the IWC, CITES, and CMS.

    The Brazilian Government is party to multilateral agreements related to cetaceans, besides the IWC, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The Government of Brazil participates as Observer in the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and has signed a Letter of Intentions to this agreement. Potential benefits of such agreements include conservation efforts to protect southern right whales and franciscana dolphin.

    External URL: https://cites.org/eng/parties/country-profiles/br
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