Emanuel is the president of the Berlengas’s Barnacle Fishermen Association. Together with WWF he works closely to create a better future for the oceans.
“The ocean means almost everything to me. My family is the most important to me, but the ocean is everything else.” Fisherman Emanuel Henriques clearly has a deep-rooted love for the oceans. As a fisherman, he relies on the ocean as his main source of income. Emanuel witnessed the disappearance of marine species and realized he needed to change his ways for the sake of the ocean and the people dependent on it. And so he did. Today we share Emanuel’s inspiring story – our very first Ocean Witness.
Emanuel has always been mesmerized by the ocean; he started diving at the age of 11 and was astonished by all the life he discovered there. Today he practises selective fishing and works closely with WWF to create a better future for the oceans. He is an exemplary Ocean Witness. And the first to share his story with us. You can find the interview below.
What’s your first memory of the ocean?
My biggest childhood memories are associated with the sea. Watching the boats arrive with enormous amounts of fish. I started diving at the age of 11. I saw the alges on the bottom of the sea. The ocean was abundant in these things: shellfish, octopus, alges. A sea full of life.
Why did you become a fisherman?
I became a fisherman because, when I was a kid I saw my grandfather and uncles arrive with boats full of fish and that really filled me with joy. I knew this was what I wanted to do. And until this day, fishing is a big part of my life. Fishing makes me feel at ease. I feel connected to nature, and it enables me to support my family.
What is your relation with WWF?
As president of the Berlengas’s Barnacle Fishermen Association, I have a good relationship with WWF. We fish on the Goose Barnacle at the Islands of Berlangas. The Goose Barnacle is a delicacy in Portugal and Spain. This is an important community and as fishermen we aim to have a healthier fishery in Berlengas Islands. We work closely together to create a better future.
How has the ocean changed over the years?
The sea has changed because of pollution, an increase in amount of boats and fishing gears, climate change. Because of all this, several species have disappeared from our coast. We really have to do something so that, one day, things can go back to the way they were.
"We should treat the ocean like it’s our own home."
What do you do to make a difference?
I practice selective fishing, I use hooks and I never catch young fish. I leave them be so that they can grow, letting their population grow back into their normal size. All the garbage is brought back to land. I strive to move my association of fisherman, as well as all the fishermen out there, to do the same. We should treat it like it’s our own home. The oceans are being exploited. If we all contribute even a little bit, we can bring them back to the way they once were.
Emanuel is the president of the Berlengas’s Barnacle Fishermen Association. Together with WWF he works closely to create a better future for the oceans. A few examples: Emanuel practices selective fishing (letting populations grow back into their normal size) and he brings garbage from fishing back to land rather than disposing it to the ocean.