Guilherme Dutra, marine program director at Conservation International (CI) in Brazil, has been awarded a 2012 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. Mr. Dutra's project will support the expansion of the Abrolhos Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network, which could create the largest network of protect areas on the eastern coast of the Americas.
“Brazil is recognized as one of the most biologically significant countries in the world,” said Mr. Dutra. “The Pew Marine Fellowship will allow us to advance marine conservation in this biodiverse and unique area of the world. With more information and better management, I am certain we can reach important goals for marine protected areas, preserve critical areas of Brazil's ocean environment, and improve sustainable uses in the Abrolhos Region.”
The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation is a prestigious program that gives recipients US$150,000 for a three-year scientific research or conservation project designed to address critical challenges facing our oceans. Mr. Dutra will use the Abrolhos expansion process as a model for enhancing planning for marine areas (marine spatial planning) in Brazil.
In Brazil, less than two percent of the country's marine ecosystems are protected. However, as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty addressing the conservation of biodiversity, Brazil agreed to protect at least 10 percent of its waters by 2020. Mr. Dutra's fellowship will support the growth of the Abrolhos National Park by 10,000 square kilometers (almost 4000 square miles) and the creation of an 85,000 square kilometers (about 33,000 square miles) Abrolhos MPA network area, which allows regulated uses of natural resources. Thus, his project will help Brazil to meet its goal for marine protection and create momentum for future designations.
“New protections in the Abrolhos area will be a big boost to biodiversity conservation in the western Atlantic,” said Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “Mr. Dutra's project is an important step toward better management of Brazil's waters, including achieving national marine conservation objectives.”
Mr. Dutra joined CI as a biologist in 1996, after graduating from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. In 2000, he obtained a master's degree in ecology from Universidade Estadual de Campinas, while coordinating CI's Abrolhos Project. Since he started to work in Abrolhos, Dutra has coordinated efforts to increase the knowledge and recognition of the importance of its coral reefs, as well as to develop management solutions that can be replicated and influence marine conservation in the country. To date, he has managed nearly 25 marine conservation projects, worked with 16 local communities, and led three major communication campaigns for the protection of the region.
The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has awarded 125 fellowships to individuals from 32 countries. The Pew Marine Fellowships fund science and other projects that address critical challenges in the conservation of the oceans. Through a rigorous nomination and review process, a committee of marine specialists from around the world selects Pew Marine Fellows based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including their potential to protect ocean environments. Unique and timely projects led by outstanding professionals in their fields are chosen annually, targeting individuals who are mid-career. The program is managed by the Pew Environment Group, based in Washington, D.C.
More information about each of the 2012 Pew Marine Fellows, including photographs and a video about the recipients, is available at www.pewmarinefellows.org.