Atanasio Brito’s story of change with Rare

At Rare's November 2023 event hosted at Netflix in NYC, Atanasio Brito — Rare Vice President of Fish Forever in Mozambique — shares his inspiring personal story of taking action for nature and partnering with Rare on his journey.
November 29, 2023

Full transcript

Well when I was a child I was really obsessed about fishing and I would bring home lots of fish and you think that’s a really good thing right but my parents wouldn’t approve it so my mom would say “Atanasio go clean your room” and I would just run and try to clean everything as quickly as I could so I could find time just to to go back at fishing.

Living in Quelimane which is in central Mozambique that’s a town that is surrounded by wetlands rice fields coconut plantations just near the Zambezi river so the natural thing for kids in my community would be after school they would just help their parents in the fields or go play soccer. For me it was no that’s fishing that was my thing and I would just go into the water knees deep and try to fish as as much as I could.

There was just a magic connection there I would just look at the water and say I will get a tilapia here and a catfish there so well I even went into my career just studying a graduate school a college graduate school biology and even followed my career passion went into working with the government as a fisheries scientist for 20 years, five of those I was a chief scientist at the national level in Mozambique for fisheries. I remember standing just in front of crowds of fishers fish associations telling them the results of our research the stock the number of boats that should go at sea for fishing especially shrimps.

The seasons and and so on and I get really a lot of disagreements from the crowds people saying well we see something else so until it hit me that well fishery science is not enough if you’re talking only about the fish I mean there’s always the big thing which is the human perspectives.
Actually that was the defining moment for me after those years serving and I went actively working and looking for opportunities to kind of find a a balanced solution right out there.

That’s when I found Rare which was starting to work in Mozambique and bringing this very ionnovative approach which was community led fisheries management for small-scale fisheries and I really was happy to have been given the job starting to expand the program establishing community lead fisheries management throughout the country, having established many no-take reserves managed by the communities and just seeing the movement that is growing it’s a big momentum the government supporting with the necessary legislation I’m really really really proud of that and I know many of people that are in this room have supported that effort.

But well things have taken this good momentum but it’s not enough. Mozambique is really under really big pressure at this moment you know climate change big storms come and the population is exploding and food insecurity is the main thing there. Declining fishery elsewhere so I think we have a responsibility as a group. I know some of you will be coming down to Mozambique very soon hopefully I will try to show you what it what is like there.

People are believing that it’s possible to change this situation so really I’m inviting you to continue this effort talking about it mobilizing funding just to get to that point where we can say at least we did something and we mitigated and tried to recover some of the community or people livelihoods right so try to have a healthy ecosystems in Mozambique in the end it’s it’s not about the fish it’s about the people just us yourself so thank you so much for everything.