The overfishing and degradation are the main causes of the decline of marine ecosystems in the South Atlantic Ocean in recent decades, according to a study led by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).
The investigationpublished by the magazine ‘PLoS ONE’, sheds light on the magnitude of human impact on these once prosperous marine areas, based on the archaeological analysis of remains of fish from various deposits in Brazil.
The ICTA-UAB researcher and the Department of Prehistory from the UAB, Thiago Fossile, has highlighted the growing anthropogenic pressures faced by aquatic fauna in Brazil, “a country known for its impressive beaches and its diverse fauna”.
According to Fossile, the indigenous communities that inhabited the southern coast of Brazil for thousands of years enjoyed abundant and diverse marine ecosystems, teeming with large, high-trophic level fish and important predators that in the past played an important role in their food safety.
This allowed, according to the researcher, his exploitation customary by indigenous populations with simple fishing technology for thousands of years.
After comparing the archaeological remains of the species of fish from the past with existing populations today, researchers have shown significant declines in many of the species, particularly sharks and rayspossibly linked to the intensification of human impact, such as overfishing and habitat degradation in recent decades.
According to Fossile, “many documented species in archeological sites They are now in danger of extinction, while there are insufficient data on their distribution and abundance of other species. Using archaeological data, we can better understand these lost environments and redefine conservation baselines.”
Also a researcher at ICTA-UAB André Colonese has highlighted the importance of coastal ecosystems and seafarers in sustaining subsistence fishing for thousands of years along the Brazilian coast.
“This study -he added- underlines the importance of incorporating archaeological data into conservation debates in Brazil, reinforcing the relevance of this discipline for environmental issues”.
The study, led by ICTA-UAB researchers, also collaborated with the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (Germany), the University of São Paulo (Brazil), the Federal University of Pelotas (Brazil), the Federal University of Rio Grande (Brazil), the Universidade da Região de Joinville (Brazil) and the Federal University of Santa Maria (Brazil).