We grieve over the recent death of Mr. Severino Cassiano da Silva – better known as Biu – last Sunday the 5th of February, 2017. Biu was the last native resident of Tatuoca Island in Pernambuco State, Brazil. His life and fate were blended with this island, where previously more than 50 families lived off traditional fisheries, artisanal agriculture and fruit trees.

In 2014, SOMO and partner organisations Forúm Suape and BothENDS held a capacity building workshop in the region to assist fisherwomen and fishermen in Biu’s community fight for their rights in the face of irresponsible industrial development that had destroyed their livelihoods. Dr. Joseph Wilde-Ramsing, SOMO senior researcher and coordinator of OECD Watch:

I remember Biu well – his friendly welcome to us at his bar on Tatuoca Island, and his struggle to defend his home and his livelihood against Van Oord and CIPS. The injustice is both tragic and infuriating.” 

Forced evictions and formal complaints

Biu saw his family and friends being forcibly evicted from the island, but refused to leave himself. He saw the lands of his neighbours being degraded, water and soil contaminated and mangroves being uprooted. Right next to his place, Dutch dredging company Van Oord – with the support of the Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB – dug out a massive basin for the Promar shipyard that now builds pipe laying vessels for the off-shore oil industry.

For years, Biu kept up a peaceful resistance against the violations of the territory of the island by the port authority of Suape (Industrial and Harbor Complex of Suape, CIPS). With SOMO’s assistance, the fisherwomen and fishermen in Biu’s community filed formal OECD Guidelines complaints against Dutch dredging company Van Oord and financial backer Atradius DSB. The case against Atradius was handled by the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines and was concluded in November 2016. The case against Van Oord remains pending at the Brazilian NCP. Unfortunately, neither case has resulted in any improvement in the situation for the local communities nor any remediation of the harms they have endured.

Read the full In Memoriam on the site of our partner organisation Both ENDS.

SOMO together with our partner organisations worldwide will keep supporting the communities affected by multinationals.

Case against Van Oord

Case against Atradius DSB