João Pascoli and Rafael Ferreira are like any other pair of twenty-something friends with a passion for sport fishing. The duo spend as much time as they can out on the water, and in their free time post videos and photos of their exploits online. But unlike many, Ferreira and Pascoli also have a deep-rooted interest in conservation, and in their native country of Brazil that makes them somewhat of an anomaly.
“Many people in Brazil who hear what we are doing don’t understand it,” the 26-year-old Pascoli told Reelerz. “ And the rest who do understand it don’t really care.”
Pascoli and Ferreira run the Dagarana Sport Fishing charter out of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, leaving port every morning with the hope of hooking one of the massive marlins that patrols the waters off the Brazilian coast. However, they operate a little differently than other local charters: The explicit purpose of Dagarana is to tag and release all the billfish they catch.
“Almost everything that is known about blue marlin and billfish comes from the data we get from tagging them,” said Pascoli. “It’s the only way to get migratory information about them, which lets us understand how to better protect their populations.”
That concept of conservation isn’t exactly ingrained in the Brazilian conscience. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources, Brazil has a long history of neglecting to protect those resources, be it through the allowance of widespread logging in the Amazon or through the pollution of bay waters that has made Rio de Janeiro an actual biohazard for Olympic athletes in 2016.
Still, despite locals hesitation to get behind conservation efforts, the duo of young fishermen are convinced that they can make a difference, and hope to do so like any good pair of millenials: by going through social media. The two fishermen constantly post pictures from their charters online over Instagram in an effort to get people behind their mission.
“We can already see the beginning of change in people’s mindsets as they’ve started to do tag and release over the past two years,” the 27-year-old Ferreira told Reelerz. “Once fishermen down here get used to the idea of tag and release they learn just how important it is.”
And beyond the simply getting fans online interested in their message of conservation, Pascoli and Ferreira are working to enact real, meaningful change at the ground level in Brazil.
“Rafael and I have stopped fishing in marlin tournaments down here because most all of them don’t do tag and release,” said Pascoli. “Currently, we’re trying to change the regulations for tournaments next year so we can see more sustainable practices start to take place, and get other fishermen on board with what we’re doing.”
Ultimately, if they’re successful, Pascoli and Ferreira hope to not just inspire the local fishermen, but to also get more people excited about the prospect of fishing in Brazil.
“Most people in Brazil don’t go sport fishing,” said Pascoli. “There’s not a big market for it locally because most people can’t afford it, and those who visit think about samba and football maybe before they think about fishing when they consider Brazil. But three of the last sport fishing world records for marlin were set in Brazil, and we have some of the best fishing in the world here. So we want to get people not just excited about fishing here, but doing it the right way.”