The fishing industry in Brazil is not always regarded as being important but it should be. It is, after all, an important occupation involving around three and a half million people, directly or indirectly. They operate all along the country’s 8,500 Km coast plus in or on numerous inland rivers, waterways, reservoirs and lakes.
In fact, the ‘inland’ sites are extremely effective and mile for mile are much more productive than the coastal waters. This is partly because many of the maritime areas have been heavily harvested for many years and are seriously ‘thinned out’. In some cases they have been over-fished almost to extinction by large industrial fishing operations. This isn’t true of all offshore fishing grounds of course but it is a notable feature of a growing number. Despite all this, in absolute terms the raw total of production from the coast is still about two thirds of the national output. The total of fish from all sources has been steadily around 800,000 tonnes per year in recent times.
The organisation of inland fisheries incidentally tend to be rather smaller-scale than Atlantic ones, often based on individual or family based work. As well as structured ‘fish-farms’ these types of enterprises ( sometimes called ‘artisanal’) are a main feature of freshwater fishing.
Regarding potential for expansion in the industry, it’s generally thought that so-called ‘aquaculture’ or fish farming is the best way forward and currently produces around three-quarters of total inland yield.
Actual consumption of fish varies widely across the country but, unsurprisingly, is heaviest in the Amazon basin or along the coastline. For example, it’s calculated that in the former area, annual consumption per head is at least 30 kg. This is around three times the overall national average, which itself has increased rapidly in recent years due to massive government campaigns to increase consumption. Of course, 200 million people eating on average 9kg per year require far more fish than can be produced within the country’s fisheries. Inevitably, that means large-scale imports of course.
Paradoxically, Brazil is also an important exporter of fish. The answer to this apparent contradiction is that much of the local or national production is either not of the required type for Brazilian use or can more easily be transported to nearby ( technically ‘foreign’) markets than other, more distant, consumers who are technically within the vast country.
Investment in Brazilian fishing tends to be large scale along the coast where the big companies operate and more ‘micro; in nature along inland waterways. There are however a number of emerging investments that are becoming very popular in Brazil. The Minha Casa Minha Vida social housing project is currently attracting lots of investors thanks to Anglo-Brazilian property giant EcoHouse Group who allow direct investment through their global offices. Porto Alegre is the place to watch in 2014 with a number of social housing projects planned.
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