Mothers of the Mangroves

August 23, 2021

Mangroves are a source of pride and belonging for women on Brazil’s Amazon coast.

Mothers of the Mangroves is a four-part video series that explores the fundamental roles many women play as coastal guardians in northern Pará state, nurturing and protecting the ecosystem that supports their lives and livelihoods and helps mitigate our global climate crisis. It is a call to action to conserve this precious resource before it’s too late.

Transcripts are auto-generated.

In the past we used to come with my mother and father to fish with nets to catch fish. We fish in the river between the mangroves.

The crab spawns for five days, and for five days we went in the morning and in the afternoon to catch the crab.

And when the crab walked, there were a lot of women in the mangrove,

we are aware that at that time we should not catch crabs because government legislation does not allow the crab could be fished during the closed season.

Then we were re-educated.

I usually wake up at 5:30 in the morning to take care of the children first.

To be able to go to the activities that have to be done.

I plant, harvest.

And in the mangroves we go and catch crabs.

And also we collect oyster and other shellfish because everything from here is our livelihood.

Not only me, but the whole community, depends on the mangrove.

So, we have to help take care of it, because if it’s over, where do we go?

We are doing this for a living.

If we don’t protect the mangrove, in the future we will not have the conserved ecosystem.

We really like nature because the mangrove is life.

We have it here as a nursery.

In this first video, “Roots that Support,” the “marisqueiras” share the community solutions and behavioral shifts they have inspired in their communities.

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Meeting of Waters – Episode 2

I have time for the farm and there is time for fishing, at the moment

it is the fishing time, catching fish. I have my own canoe

and my own gear. We catch species one at a time

respecting the seasons. Different seasons

offer different species that we can harvest.

We are surviving according to what the mangrove offers.

Everyone invites friends and cousins, you know, most here at

the community are relatives and we go fishing just to eat

to prepare the crab food.

All family and friends

prepare the crab food. So everyone gets organized

and goes to the mangrove to get the crab.

Because once you get a lot, you know you will

get to the shore and find buyers who will

sell and you will get money to buy your sugar

your coffee, your rice.

I’ve already lived a little for survival too, mainly

in these difficult times.

And I help people when I can.

People come to my house and I give them fish.

I catch a lot of fish and I can help my neighbors by sharing what I catch.

So if I have it, I share my fish with them.

How much more fish I give for my neighbors

my brothers – the next day I go to the beach

and the net will be full of fish.

Who survives from the mangrove,
needs to preserve because otherwise it collapses.

Everywhere you take it, if you don’t conserve, it will end.

If you attack nature, it’ll get you back and you wouldn’t like it

because we eat healthy things, which are the fish

that come from the mangrove, so it represents a lot,
represents everything in our lives.

Have the awareness for the environment,

for nature, so I teach them.

I teach my nephew, anyone I’ve seen that

is doing something that harms the environment

nature, I always pay attention.

Many people from the community

depend on the mangrove, I depend on the

mangrove. I worked nine years in city hall, but I depend

on it a lot.

Caring for mangroves
Is caring for life.

In this second video, we follow the lives of female fishers in Pará state, which has Brazil’s highest concentration of female fishers (95,000). These women show us what it takes to conserve and protect their mangroves.

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Enchantment of Tide – Episode 3

When I go into the mangrove, I bless myself first, I ask

mother nature’s permission to enter.

There’s a legend of Matinta Pereira,

that everyone tells.

Some people say that it even exists today.

One day, I was setting the fishing net

I don’t know, I didn’t see. I just heard a loud sound on the net.

It was 6pm. Matinta Pereira was chasing me on the beach.

Sometimes I went with my husband, we took a machete,

and it protected us.

When she arrives,

I transformed myself in

Matinta Pereira. I slept out back there. I stopped sleeping there

because one day I heard a whistle.

I was afraid and then I’ve never wanted to sleep out there again.

Because she passed over here whistling,

and we were afraid. Me and my daughter Kauane never sleep
out there again.

Once upon a time here in Sky Community, a friend of mine told me that

she went to the mangrove and

she walked a lot, starting at 8 or 9am,

and the people found her at 3pm.

People said that she was confused and bewitched.

Brazil lost 20% of mangrove coverage in two decades. Conserving mangroves is looking after the ancient heritage of the Amazon.

I remember once, but I’ve never got voiceless,

I just felt a shiver and I felt like my hair

going up and my head was cold, right there on the bridge
where I came from.

When you get bewitched, climbing vines

wrap around and lose the leaves. Until

the Curupira [folklore character] finds the leaves, you can find the path.
My mother said that my

dad once did it. I don’t know exactly, because I didn’t have the opportunity to have this conversation with him.

Both the forest and the mangrove have a mother, so if you

don’t respect, she can brings you bad things.

Looking after the mangroves
is looking after life.

Mangroves preserve marine life and ancestral heritage. In this third video, Enchantments of Tide, we will discover how mangroves support the intangible elements of life: as a place where women weave their memories and life stories, build their identities, connect with the wisdom and traditional knowledge of the ecosystem, and grow a lifelong commitment to caring for their protection.

Transcripts are auto-generated.

Nursery of Life – Episode 4

When I turned 27 I left, and found a husband and had two

children, my first son is Ed Rodrigues Pompona and the second

is Edgar Rodrigues Pompona. Sons of a fisherman, they are all fishermen.

Actually they’re fishing up north. They’re based there for 3-4 months.

This community was very small

but then it grew because water and energy came,

and then the children grew up and built a family.

And now we have this beautiful community.

I miss them a lot, I pray a lot for them because there are many

things that could happen, mainly to the north. There are a lot

of things, I really worry about them.

We don’t survive only from fishing.

We survive on crab and shellfish.

So for me, the protection and the preservation of the mangrove is

very serious, it’s all the good we can have here.

We can’t be cutting mangrove, cutting fruit trees.

It’s not allowed to cut the trees.

I think it’s very important because this will not only serve

my daughter, and my daughter’s children.

For when they grow up.

Because if we don’t take care now, then later

there won’t be anything.

There won’t be anything to look at that existed since

my mother’s time since my grandmother’s time.

So we work with this.

We already teach them today and then they can teach their children.

And here we preserve these values, so we don’t throw

garbage on the street, plastic, these things.

Even because here we don’t have much help from the city hall,

for garbage collection, these things, there are a lot of people

who come to the beach and bring bottles,

then they leave this garbage.

Who taught me the whole shellfish fishing technique,

it was my mother and my aunt. Now we are included inside

of the process.

And today we know what we really want to work with

within this whole context of this place,

we’re the guardians of this entire mangrove area, because

all of this is not just for us, but for our children’s future.

Looking after the mangroves
is looking after life.

In the fourth and last video, we see how women, community leaders, collectors, and mothers come together to protect the mangroves and their community network. And we celebrate the Mothers of the Mangrove as the guardians of this invaluable and irreplaceable life support system.

The Mothers of the Mangroves campaign is a partnership among Purpose, Rare, and Confrem and Associations, with support from Ame o Tucunduba, Climainfo, Conservation International, Instituto Manguezal, Instituto Nova Amazônia, Instituto Peabiru, League of Women for the Ocean, Oceana, and Toró.