Marine fish in Brazil

Brazil’s sea-catch capacity is very diverse, from tropical fish species in the north to colder fish species in the south. Slowly aquaculture is gaining weight in the volumes consumed per capita but wild caught marine fish is still an important source to satisfy the demand of the domestic, Brazilian market. There is also a growing interest in exporting the wild caught species. It is impossible to detail all available species, but some of major interest to the European market, in our opinion, are tuna, croakers, snappers, swordfish, mackerel and wild shrimp. Pesqueira Pionera, with 18 vessels and over 100 partner vessels, Kowalsky Group, with 13 motorized steel hull vessels, and Pesqueira Maguary, specialized in shrimp and catfish catches, are the largest fishery companies in Brazil. Pesqueira Pionera and Pesqueira Maguary operate in the mid-northern part of Brazil (FAO 31 and 41). Kowalsky Fisheries is one of the biggest fishing companies in the southern part (FAO 41), claiming to supply 35% of Brazil’s national market. For them, tuna is an important marine species.

Marine fish

Sourcing news

Wild catch fish production and export statistics

Species wise production

Source: FAO (2017)

Since 2010, there has been no Brazilian authority that kept statistics on national fishing practices, so only FAO data is used. Some of interesting species for the European market, in our opinion, are skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), red snapper (Lutjanus purpureus), whitemouth croaker (Furnier micropogonias), laulao catfish (Brachyplatystoma vaillantii), swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and

red spotted shrimp (Farfantepenaeus brasiliensis). FAO data shows a steady production of red spotted shrimp, red snapper, croaker, and catfish over the last few years.

Among the tuna species, skipjack tuna forms the lion's share of tuna catches. Peak catches of skipjack tuna were in 2012 (30,000 MT) and 2013 (32,000 MT), while the numbers for 2015 (17,500 MT) show a decrease from the normal volume in the last ten years, which has been around 20,000 MT. Capture of yellowfin and bigeye tuna have both increased; from 2,800 MT in 2012 to almost 5,000 MT 2015 for the former and from 1,400 MT in 2012 to more than 3,500 MT in 2015 for the latter.

Export markets

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre,

Brazil is still unable to satisfy domestic demand with marine fish species. Consequently, exports are still low in comparison with other countries in South America, like Chile and Argentina, who, together with Caribbean countries, are Brazil's main export competitors. Apart from the United States, Spain and Portugal are important importers of wild marine fish and shrimps from Brazil. Surprisingly, according

to Trademap, Seychelles is the third biggest importer from Brazil. It might be used as a hub, re-exporting the seafood to other countries in that region. China also imports a lot of wild caught marine fish species from Brazil, often, for the purpose of processing, it goes through Hai Phong in Vietnam where the cheaper products like scombers and croakers are exported to African countries like Gabon and Congo.

Brazil experienced a decline in export of wild marine fish in 2014 as some countries like Thailand and Japan decreased their import of catch fish from Brazil that year. On the other hand, the increase in export of red snapper to the EU and US markets over the last years have resulted in a steady growth in export of catch fish from 2014 on. In addition, Vietnam and the Seychelles have also increased their imports of frozen skipjack tuna and red snapper from Brazil over the last few years, making them the third and fourth biggest importer of Brazilian catch fish.

Export products in 2015 (tonnes)

Source: Trade Map (2017), International Trade Centre,

Most of the wild caught marine species are exported frozen, in all possible elaborations and packings. Some companies even sell chilled tuna to the United States, Argentina and Chile. The United States is also one of Brazil͛'s major customers for chilled snapper. France and Spain are

important importers of frozen shrimps, tuna and low-cost products like mackerel, hake and anchovy.

Companies like Congelados Delfin from Spain import full container loads of bulk, red spotted shrimp, which they cook and elaborate in their processing plants into retail packing. After cooking, the shrimp has a good pink colour, with bright red spots. Then the shrimps are re-exported to other European countries like Germany, Switzerland and Belgium; Spain has a particularly good market for Bazillian cooked shrimp. They also sell products in original, 10 kg packaging. Until now, laulao catfish (Piramutaba, in Portuguese) is mainly sold to the national market but it could be an interesting alternative to pangasius. It is a catfish caught in the northern part of Brazil in the Amazon delta rivers.

Do you want to know which exporters are already exporting wild catch fish? Get in touch!

Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Damage to sea-floor ecosystems because of trolling and gillnets.
  • Overfishing
  • Illegal fishing and capture of too small and immature fishes and shrimps putting local populations in danger

Social risks

  • Workers safety and rights on vessels and in processing plants
  • Informality, illegality, corruption in governmental institutions

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Small and immature fish and shrimp
  • Sensitivity to diseases and pollutants; in the sea there are no barriers against disease, algae blooms, bacteria, etc.
  • Climate change
  • Lack of international certifications like Marine Stewardship Council and Friends of the Seas

Species in Brazil

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Brazil