RCE Curitiba-Parana - 2019

Freshwater Chondrichthyan Biodiversity and Interactions with Humans: danger under the surface?
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Freshwater Chondrichthyan Biodiversity and Interactions with Humans: danger under the surface?
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Curitiba-Parana
Contributing organization(s) : 
RCE Curitiba - Paraná; Federal University of Paraná and IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group (not RCE member organization).
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Patricia Charvet
Organizational Affiliation: 
Collaborator at the Federal University of the State of Paraná.
Marcelo Errera
Organizational Affiliation: 
Professor at the Federal University of Paraná.
Format of project: 
PowerPoint and manuscript
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Additional resources: 
To be completed depending on partners´ agreement.
Freshwater Chondricthyan Biodiversity
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Health Care System
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Fishermen Communities
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Paraná-Prata River Basin and Amazon River Basin
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Federal University of Paraná (UFPR).
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
This project interacts with riparian and fishermen communities in the main river basins of South America. These communities have low income and accidents with freshwater stingrays are a problem and part of their daily routine. In some cases, wounds lead to temporarily and even permanent disabilities. At the same time these accidents could be easily avoided and have reduced impact if simple on-site care if given to the person right away. These communities and rays are subject to river systems degradation and human impacts.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
People and freshwater stingrays have coexisted for a long time. Many of those communities are in very remote areas where access to basic education is still a challenge. Some understand that rivers are an infinite natural resource, but challenges related to habitat loss and degradation have increased significantly in the past decades. Some communities do not see freshwater stingrays are part of their local or national fish fauna, while others capture them for the ornamental fish trade. All families that approach water can potentially have accidents with these rays that have a powerful necrotic venom covering their tail sting.
April, 2018 to April, 2022
The residents of riverine areas and fishermen should understand that freshwater stingrays are part of the ecosystem but at the same time they are feared and hated due to the sting wounds that they inflict. This way the information provided will help demystify these rays and also provide clear and simple procedures to be taken when accidents happens. There are traditional practices in some regions that contaminate or worsen wounds to the point that amputations or tissue implants end up being needed.
The main objectives of this project are to understand better the diversity of these species, the threats that they are subject to in freshwater environments, update extinction risk assessment and reduce sting accidents with fishermen and riparian communities with simple measures that can be performed on-site and at low cost.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Species list update, previous Red List Assessment data collecting, accidents data collecting, preparing talks and material to use with fishermen and riparian communities. This project started last year so data collation it still being done and potential partners in neighboring countries are being contacted.
Size of academic audience: 
Until now approximately 500 but the complete material has not been finalized yet.
The results obtained until now indicate that the species of freshwater stingrays are an endemic and important part of the region´s biodiversity. They are considered freshwater obligate species and are impacted by any other changes that affect water quality in rivers. On the other side their interactions with fishermen and riparian communities can cause serious consequences by sting wounds and at least in the Brazilian Amazon region it is the leading reason for fishermen to get financial support from the government for work leaves. They are present in threatened environments, are subject to impacts like mining, pesticides, pollution and river banks development. New extinction risk assessments are needed. It is important to work with these communities for them to understand that simple measures like feet shuffling in the sandy or muddy river bottoms can avoid these sting accidents.
Lessons learned: 
Logistics to many of the areas is expensive and complicated. Some areas cannot be visited due to the activity of guerillas and drug dealers. There is a cultural resistance that labels freshwater stingrays are “evil creatures” and in some places local residents require to have beach cleaning (negative fishery eliminating all specimens in the area to avoid any accident with tourists.
Key messages: 
Freshwater stingrays are endemic to South America river basins. They have an important role in freshwater ecosystems, are restricted to river basins and subject to human activity impacts. These rays inflict painful and serious sting wounds on the fishermen and riparian communities that could be easily avoided with education.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This project is related to IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group and the idea is to expand it to other neighboring countries in South America where there are RCE and other institutions (e.g. Fundación Squalus in Colombia). It is indirectly linked to other projects in the RCE that work with water and aquatic environments.
Until now this project does not have specific funding but it is needed to reach more areas and become more widely distributed.
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level