* TAMAR = short name for " TArtaruga MARinha",
the Portuguese words for sea turtles

"The story of marine conservation in Brazil coincides with the creation of the TAMAR Program. Seventeen years ago, the Federal Government, in tune with international demand and increasing environmental awareness in Brazilian society, began to adopt measures aiming at marine protection. In the beginning of the 1980s, the Brazilian Institute of Forestry Development (IBDF), which was later incorporated into the Brazilian Institute of the Environment (IBAMA) set up marine conservation units and implemented specific projects to protect threatened marine species.

To broaden the scope of action in the context of an environmental agenda meant, above all, creating biological reserves, national parks and, despite complicated decision-making processes, reassessing the parameters of the man-nature interaction. To this end, the TAMAR and Peixe-Boi-Marinho (Manatee) programs, the Biological Reserve of Atol das Rocas and the Program for the Creation of Marine Conservation Units were set up. These initiatives paved the way, years later, for the setting up of the National Marine Parks of Abrolhos and Fernando de Noronha and the creation of the Biological Reserves of Santa Isabel, in Sergipe, Comboios, in Espirito Santo, and Arvoredo, in Santa Catarina.

The net of protectionism was, by various means, being cast over the sea. Without, however, losing sight of the close links between sea and land. There was no longer any room for the perplexity of José, the character created by Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, "Who wants to run to the sea. But the sea has dried up. What now ?". It was time for creativity to oppose the old fashioned conception of watching and punishing, and integrate the local communities into the various conservationist schemes. The TAMAR Program consubstantiated all these changes by developing innovative techniques of conservation as early as the beginning of the 1980s and also by incorporating a socioeconomic dimension into the program. This resulted in changes of behavior among the communities along the shore for whom new economic alternatives were made feasible. Beginning with the protection of sea turtles, whose reproductive cycle man constantly interrupted, the TAMAR Program has broadened its operational scope in Brazil, and it has currently twenty two research stations, distributed between the states of São Paulo and Ceará, that control over 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) of coastline.

The TAMAR Program, after 17 years, is an emblematic example of alliances. Between Man and Nature. Between PETROBRAS (the state-owned Brazilian Petroleum Company: its first and principal sponsor) and the Program. Between ecotourism and handicrafts. Between technique and social values. Between the threat and survival. Between the land and the sea.

For these and other reasons, the TAMAR Program is a landmark in the history of Brazilian marine conservation. And it must be credited to the tenacity of those fishermen who believe it is sweet to make their living from the sea."

Text from the Minister of the Environment, Gustavo Krause