Greempeace warned this week that the coral reef discovered at the mouth of the Amazon River is in danger because it encompasses areas with permits for oil exploration.
Discovered two years ago, the formation of freshwater coral baptized as theAmazon reefit spreads more than previously thought. This week, Greenpeace confirmed that it reaches the northern region of the Amazon, located 135 kilometers from the coast of Oiapoque, the city in the state of Amapá that is the northernmost in Brazil, where the oil company Total has a license to prospecting.
Greenpeace managed to track the area after submerging a remotely operated vehicle for an hour and a half, which revealed some of the biodiversity that marks this unique ecosystem that features fish, black corals, white corals and a rich variety of sponges.
In addition, the mouth of the Amazon is home to several local populations and more than 80 indigenous communities.Quilombola, which depend on the fishing resources of the area to develop their economic activity. All this added to the fact that the territory is part of the habitat of the Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus), the terecay turtle (Podocnemis unifilis), -both in a vulnerable state of conservation- and the giant otter(Pteronura brasiliensis), which according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is classified as an endangered species.
"The discovery proves the existence of a reef formation in the area and invalidates Total's Environmental Impact Study, which states that the closest coral formation is 8 kilometers from one of the oil blocks," states the statement from the NGO.
Total declined to comment.
"Now that we know that the extension of the reefs overlaps with the perimeter of Total's blocks, there is no other option for the Brazilian government than to deny the company the license to extract oil in the region," said Thiago Almeida, head of the Greenpeace “Defend the corals of the Amazon” campaign.
Greenpeace has been promoting a campaign for several months to prevent Total from exploiting the deep-water areas near the mouth of the Amazon that was awarded in a concession auction organized by the Brazilian government.
The Brazilian Environment Institute (Ibama) made numerous observations on Total's environmental impact study, in particular on the possible dispersion of pollutants in the area it intends to explore.
The Federal Public Ministry of the state of Amapá recommended that Total be denied the license to exploit the area of the Atlantic Ocean over which it has a concession.
For the time being, the government has suspended the bidding process until 2019 pending a conclusion of the environmental licensing process.