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. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), part of the Ministry of Environment, is monitoring the fishing industry closely to counter illegal and informal fishing.

Due to the vulnerability some species like tuna, it will be very difficult to have parts of Brazilian fishing industry Marine Stewardship Council or Friends of the Seas certified.

Key features
Number of boats

100 industrial vessels in 2007

Type of fishing


Fishing areas

Mid-southern part of Brazil, FAO 41

Target species

Tuna (all species)

Landing areas

Main fishing ports and private landing places (like the Kowalsky Group)

Potential risks
  • Overfishing
  • Illegal 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. Moreover, there is a lot of illegal fishing going on. In 2007, there were 100 industrial vessels operational according to the FAO. Currently, the Kowalsky Group is one of the biggest fishing companies in Brazil with 13 motorized steel hull vessels of about 20-30 meters each. Each vessel has 400 hp engines. All Kowalsky vessels have their licenses for fishing tuna, croaker, mackerel, swordfish, etc. Each vessel has primary processing and chilling-freezing installations on board. Depending on the product and purpose, fresh or frozen, the fleet can be out at sea for one to 12 days. Other big fishing companies in Brazil are Pesqueira Maguary and Pesqueira Pionera.

Fishing method

The bigger steel hull vessels go out fishing further from the coast line up to even 1,000 miles. Long lines are used for the catch of tuna. For the follow-up of the migration of tuna they use modern vessels equipped with electronic sonars and radios, depth meters, temperature control, long distance radars. Each vessel can have 90 kilometers of long-lines on board.

Landing areas

Landing areas are all along the northern Brazilian coast. Larger vessels land their catches at bigger harbours 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.


In the mid-southern region, the fishing companies must be aware of the migration of the tuna species. In May-June the tuna migrates to the Gulf of Mexico from where they continue their journey to United States’ waters in July-August. In September-October the tuna returns from the North Atlantic towards Brazilian waters before heading more south to Argentina in November to February. In March-April the tuna concentrates again along the mid-southern Brazilian coast.

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. There are lots of reports informing about the dangers of the tuna fishery in Brazil, but these reports confirm that these stories are based on practical experiences told by fishermen instead of hard figures. It is probably true that the stock tuna declined in the 2000’s. There are some projects running to increase the sustainability.

Potential risks

One of the major problems is the 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.