Dolphin Massacre in Macapá Unmasked: Pressure against IBAMA Continues

Almost two months ago, the Brazilian national news channel TV Globo aired images showing more than 80 dolphins being brutally killed by fishermen in Macapá, Amapá.  These images were filmed by agents of Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis (IBAMA). On August 29, 2007, the Federal Police revealed to Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil (ISSB) the names of fishing boats involved in the massacre. ISSB has been asked to withhold the names of these vessels pending the conclusion of its inquiry.   

On July 27, ISSB filed a public civil action suit against IBAMA requesting information on the case. On August 6, ISSB launched "Operation Chatters," offering a reward of R $2,000 for information on the dolphin massacre. ISSB received an anonymous tip that the person responsible for filming belonged to the Northern Centre for Fishing Research, Laboratory of Fishing Dynamics. On August 8, the Federal Police launched an investigation of the facts filmed by IBAMA. On August 22, the period of time in which IBAMA could legally postpone offering ISSB information on the case came to an end. On August 28, the Federal Public Ministry announced measures to impede the illegal fishing of dolphins in the coastal area of Pará and Amapá. Law enforcement in those waters is typically undertaken by the Navy. 

"The situation is close to bizarre! We took this absurdity to the Senate, to the Superintendence of IBAMA in Brasilia, and to several other States. We have a preliminary request via a public civil action suit in the hands of the Federal Judge of the 2nd district court of Amapá. Even so, up to now we haven't obtained any information from them!" said Cristiano Pacheco, Judicial Director for ISSB. 

IBAMA has a legal obligation to render information to any Brazilian citizen on the case.  Due to its silence and mystery, ISSB suspect the existence of a secret international market behind the massacre of the dolphins. "This silence causes us to speculate on illegal international trade. The dolphins are sold to fishing companies, and are then used as bait for sharks, whose fins are sold to the powerful pharmaceutical industry, which is famous for its shark cartilage pills. It is also worth remembering that IBAMA, in whatever way, is responsible and should be forced to pay a fine for its omission and failure in enforcing the law and upholding its civil responsibility", commented Daniel Vairo, Founder and President of ISSB.   

The delay in disclosure of facts has resulted in a growing discomfort. The Green Party of Rio Grande do Sul is now filing a public civil suit against IBAMA for the same reasons as ISSB. "Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil develops projects in cooperation with several other NGOs, and it believes that there will be a great mobilization in the coming days, not only judicially, but also academically and on a social level. We work jointly with dozens of organizations and companies which share the same objectives as ISSB. This subject mobilizes everyone," stated Sandra Severo, General Director for ISSB. 

In a maximum period of 15 days, ISSB will have the Federal Police's inquiry in hand and will initiate an action for compensation.