Brazilian biologist Pedro Fruet, 40, is among the seven winners of the Whitley Awards 2021, known as the Oscar of Ecology.
He developed work that promotes the preservation of dolphins, threatened by fishing in Rio Grande, in the southern region of Rio Grande do Sul. The prize equivalent to R$ 300 thousand will be invested to increase the project's reach in the state.
Pedro acts as the municipality's secretary for the Environment and wants to reduce the animal mortality rate by 40% over the next five years.
His work began in 2007, when he helped found the NGO Kaosa, which houses dolphins that live in the region.
The species is threatened with extinction, mainly due to fishing. In 2012, a protection zone was created to preserve the porpoises, but the animals remained under threat.
Today, the porpoise mortality rate is 6 per year. This index is considered high, since we only have 600 animals in our ecosystem.
“The dolphins were still dying, and the fisherman was being arrested and chased by the enforcement agencies, who were doing their job. They were putting energy and money the public power into this, and in the end, the problem persisted”, said the biologist.
Pedro's project, which won the award, provides for training 50 people to disseminate information about the preservation of the dolphins.
He also wants to create an app people can access informational materials, graphics and research about the species.
In addition, Pedro plans to map the porpoise population. “We are going to go out on a boat, do this monitoring. the marks on the fins, it is possible to estimate the size of the population, how many offspring it has per year, when a female starts to reproduce”, he explained.
And he told the reason for this passion for botos.
“The dolphins are wonderful creatures and they have the ability to show us that we can enjoy the world in harmony with wild animals. I believe that, by promoting them to an emblematic species, we can protect the entire ecosystem and improve the lives of local communities”, he said in an interview with the Municipality of Rio Grande do Sul.