Having in mind that the national authorities didn’t actualize the statistical data of the fleet, captures and people involved in the industry since 2010, it is difficult to give actual and reliable numbers of the fishing industry in Brazil. Moreover, there is still a lot of illegal and unregulated fishing is occurring in Brazilian waters.The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), part of the Ministry of Environment, is monitoring the fishing industry closely to counter IUU fishing.

Key features
Number of boats

1630 coastal vessels in 2007

Type of fishing


Fishing areas

Northern part of Brazil, FAO 31

Target species

Finfish species like snapper, parrot fish and croakers.

Landing areas

All local fishing ports and private landing places like Pesqueira Pioneira

Potential risks
  • Overfishing
  • Damage to environment
  • IUU fishing

Fleet and boat characteristics

As mentioned, due to the lack of actual statistics, it is impossible to give reliable figures about the number of vessels involved nowadays. Brazil used to have 1630 coastal vessels operational, according to ten year old country report (2007). In another outdated FAO’s Fishery and Aquaculture profile for Brazil (2007), it is mentioned that in both the northern, southeast and southern region gillnets are used for catching finfish. In the north this was mostly done by artisanal fishers, while the document remains unclear about if this was also the case in the southeast or the south. Kowalsky Fisheries, operating in the south region, and Pesqueira Maguary and Pesqueira Pioneira operating in the mid-north, are examples of fishery companies using gill nets. The north region used to have the most officially registered Brazilian fishers, representing three fourth of the professionals in this sector in 2007. The Kowalsky Fisheries in the south, however, is nowadays responsible for about 35% of Brazil’s national market. In case of the small artisanal wooden hull vessels motioned by wind , small gillnets are used.

Fishing method

Gillnets compose of a series of panels of meshes with a weighted “foot rope” keeping the net at the bottom, and a headline, to which floating buoys are attached to help the net stand up right. Gillnets in Brazil are usually placed at  depths of about 60-80 meters where they can stay for about 10-12 days. Small vessels are going out to sea until 5 miles, as most of them must come back to shore on the same day.

Landing areas

Landing areas are all along the northern Brazilian coast. Larger vessels land their catches at bigger harbors or even to private landing places, where they also have their own processing plant. Fishing companies that don’t have a private plant usually work closely together with the bigger companies that do have their own plants, although they own their own vessels.


Until so far, there are no strict regulations regarding seasons. Snapper, croaker and parrot fish can be caught in the northern part of Brazil any time. There is no migration nor high or low season.

Stock status

As there are no actual and reliable data about fleet, catches, landings, illegal fishing, etc, it is difficult to give an idea of the stock status of the different species. FAO capture production data shows for Brazil a steady catch volume for red snapper over the last 10 years, however it is not clear whether this is the case because the population is stable or whether fishing effort increased.

Potential risks

One of the major problems is illegal fishing due to the long coast line, small vessels involved and the lack of efficient control by Brazilian authorities. This also makes it difficult to control the catch volume, as well as countering the catch of small and immature fish, which threatens the survival of a population. Sustainability is still in danger despite the efforts by several organizations (like FAO) and authorities, and hopefully the Brazilian authorities will be able to reduce this risk at short-midterm. However, corruption by some local authorities is not unheard of and is difficult to erase completely. Other potential risks are the overfishing, climate change and water pollution.