Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Seafood Industry in Brazil

Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Vast territory, large biodiversity, the lack of extreme temperatures throughout the year, and abundance of water, are just a few factors that grant a huge potential to the Brazilian seafood sector. Find out more about this industry branch in Brazil.

Brazilians Enjoy Seafood

Brazil is a huge country with one of the largest coastlines in the world, approximately 8,400 km. No wonder that fish and seafood are important parts of the Brazilian cuisine. While Americans consume an average of 7.5 kg of fish per capita annually, the Brazilian consumption is equivalent to 12 kg per year, only losing to the largest consumer of the world, the Japanese, at (40 kg).

The Brazilians' large consumption and appreciation for fish and seafood established a strong industry in the country, from the smallest fisherman to the largest multinationals. Fishing, Aquaculture, and Specialized Restaurants are just a few possibilities that comprise this expanding sector in the country.

The Domestic Production

Currently, Brazil produces about 1.25 million tonnes of fish, with 38% being derived from the aquaculture activity. The fishing activity generates a GDP of 5 billion BRL, mobilizing 800,000 professionals among fishermen and fish farmers, and provides 3.5 million direct and indirect jobs. The Brazilian potential is enormous, and the country can become a major producer of fish and seafood.

Type of Food Extractive Fishing on Sea
Shrimp 4,720.3
Lobster 6,929.2
Crab 2,292.9
Squid 1,623.6
Mussel 3,772.5
Oyster 1,233.7
Octupus 2,089.6
Haddock 6,504.0

Self-made Fishing

The self-made fisherman is the professional that fish for commercial means, duly licensed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA), that works with fishing for commercial means. This professional usually works in an autonomous form or in the family economy regime, with his own production tools and embarkation (usually a small boat).

The knowledge of this fisherman is passed from dad to son, in order to keep the activity alive in the family. There’s no technical education for that. But, that doesn’t mean that self-made fishermen aren’t professionals. They really know their work, and not only do they do it well, they also represent an important parcel of the country's production of fish.

Brazil has many fishermen, spread throughout the national territory. They work in the ocean, rivers, lakes, and manguezais, and they are actually part of the country’s culture. From a total of 970,000 fishermen registered in MPA, 957,000 are self-made fishermen, being 45% of the 1.24 million of haddocks, fished in the country per year, equivalent to the self-made fishing production.

Industrial Fishing

The Brazilian industrial fishing is a very reliable source of income for coastal cities. It’s considered a fundamental activity, supplying raw materials to major industries linked to food distributors centers. The practice is characterized by two types of embarkation, the medium and large sizes, and by the work relationship of the fishermen, that, in this case, involves an employment agreement.

Half of the Brazilian haddock production is derived from the industrial fishing on the sea. The practice is composed of 5,000 embarkations, involving 40,000 workers in the sector of capturing alone, and the main ports of disembarking are located in the following cities:

  • Belém (Pará)
  • Camocim (Ceará)
  • Natal (Rio Grande do Norte)
  • Vitória (Espírito Santo)
  • Rio de Janeiro and Niterói (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Santos and Guarujá (São Paulo)
  • Itajaí and Navegante (Santa Catarina)
  • Rio Grande (Rio Grande do Sul).
The main products captured by the industrial fishing are:
  • pink shrimp, piramutaba, pargo and haddocks from Northeast
  • tunas, sardines, corvinha, tainha, bonito listrado in Southeast and South.


The aquaculture in Brazil was born with the need to supply the domestic and international demand for Brazilians fishes and seafood, since fishing practices weren’t enough for it. The development of new techniques had actually helped the increase of this practice.

The country offers many alternatives for marine and freshwater aquaculture potential development. Nowadays, the most important segments of the Brazilian fish and seafood industry are:

  • farmed marine shrimp: almost 60,000 tonnes per year
  • tilapia production: 45,000 tonnes per year
  • oyster: 1.1 million dozens per year
  • mussel: 11,000 tonnes per year.

Each Brazilian region is trying to specialized its production in a fixed type of product. In the North, fishes like tambaqui and pirarucu gained space. In the Northeast, tilapia and sea shrimp are the most produced ones, while in the South and Southeast, the tilapias are also present, but added to carps, mussels, and oysters. In the Center West, the tambaqui, pacu, and pintados are the ones most produced.

Confronted Problems

According to a report published by Rabobank International, the Brazilian potential isn’t a lie, but the country still needs to overcome obstacles to achieve its maximum potential in that industry, such as:

Bureaucracy as a Bottleneck

One of the most complains about Brazil by Brazilians and foreigners is the bureaucracy confronted in the country. And, the seafood industry didn’t escape from it. The country has a very bureaucratic process to what concerns permits and licenses, to open up an aquaculture business, which diminishes the occurrence of foreign investments in Brazil.

Feed Industry Needs Improvements

The Brazilian aquaculture deals with a vast range of species and not all of them have the same eating habits, but since the creation is mainly develop in small size farms, farmers doesn’t an advantage in producing their own ration for each specie. What happens then is a very high feeding expenditure, and with feeds which are of less quality.

Lack of Infrastructure

Here comes another chronic problem of Brazil: the absence of infrastructure in many industrial sectors. Brazil is a large and vast territory and that’s why logistics could be an obstacle for production. For the seafood sector, for example, the shortage of transportation in some areas in the country causes a very deficient transportation system.

Roads, ports, consumption area, and others are, most of the times, far away from the aquaculture farms. This isn’t only a huge logistical problem that means extra expenditures for the business, but, it’s also an impediment to the carrying out of projects.

The Overcome of Obstacles

Not only would the elimination of these obstacles would help Brazil grow in the seafood sector, an increase in the Brazilian consumption of seafood, and in seafood exports to abroad, would also be a positive factor to reach that growth. It would permit the insertion of the country in the global scenario of this product, catching major companies' eyes, and gaining new ventures for Brazil.