Situated off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, with a population of 25 million. Madagascar’s economic prospects for the upcoming years are favourable, but will depend on political stability and the enactment of structural reforms. The country has 5,600 km of coastline and inland water bodies, amounting to more than 550 thousand hectares. Fisheries and aquaculture play an important socio-economic role in the country. The sector represents about 7% of its GDP. Madagascar is mainly famous for its small but very well developed shrimp farming sector. The semi-intensive farmed shrimp produced in Madagascar are France’s main source for organic-certified shrimp. However, Madagascar has more to offer. The country has an industrial and artisanal fishing fleet which has expanded in recent years and the potential to develop a largely untapped marine (e.g. seaweed and sea cucumber) and freshwater (e.g. carps, tilapia and spirulina) aquaculture potential. 

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Madagascar's seafood sector

Madagascar’s marine fishery and aquaculture production are worth more than 200 million US$ per year, contributing up to 7% to the annual GDP. Total fishery and aquaculture production amounted to almost 140 thousand metric tons (MT) in 2015. Marine sources contributed 78% of the total seafood production, while the remaining 22% (30,000 MT) came from freshwater sources. Fisheries accounted for 74% of total seafood production in 2015, and play a dominant role in creating employment opportunities for the rural communities in the country. It is estimated that the fisheries and seafood sector employs 500,000 people, employing more than 190,000 directly. In addition, seafood products are of importance for the food security and nutrition of the inhabitants of Madagascar, contributing to about 20% of the total domestic consumption of animal protein. Aquaculture accounted for 16% of Madagascar’s total seafood production in 2015. Despite being underdeveloped due to lack of means and exploitation techniques, the sector has been identified as having a considerable potential for expansion and becoming even more important in the socio-economic future of the country. The country is therefore in the process of employing a more market-oriented strategy for their seafood industry and achieving a more commercial aquaculture production.

Fisheries and aquaculture production

Source: FAO (2018)

Without a doubt, fisheries contribute for the majority of the seafood production in Madagascar with statistics indicating a steady production over the last 10 years. Despite a minor decrease in 2013/2014, (due to overfishing and the inter-annual variability of some species), updated FAO statistics

show remarkable growth for 2015, in both marine and freshwater landings.

The country’s aquaculture sector, both marine and inland, have experienced a significant increase in production quantity from 2012 onwards. Within 3 years, the production volume has more than doubled. There is still considerable potential for marine and inland aquaculture to grow if certain obstacles can be overcome ( e.g. the high cost of production and lack of financing). A positive move is that Madagascar, with the support of FAO, adopted a new Act on the Code of Fisheries, and Aquaculture in 2015. In addition, some national and international action plans and projects have recently been established to boost the aquaculture sector.

Production per species in 2015 (tonnes)

Source: FAO (2018)

Fisheries from marine water, both cultured and wild, represent 90 percent of the total seafood production. Wild marine fish count for half and consist of tuna, shark and other marine species common in the Indian Ocean near

Africa. Tilapia ssp. and common carp, among others, make up for the wild freshwater fish. Wild crustaceans mainly consist of common shrimp and crabs.

The aquaculture production has had a steady growth since 2012, especially the culture of marine fish. Cultured aquatic plants, which mainly consist of red seaweed, grew by more than 50% between 2014 and 2015. Other cultured species consist of Penaeus monodon from marine water and common carp and tilapias from freshwater.

Export markets

Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, and FAO

Due to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Madagascar enjoys with the European Union, the EU is by far the main market for Madagascar’s export of seafood. The French market’s desire for the organic produced Malagasy Giant Tiger shrimp is of particular importance, leaving France alone accounting

for 70 percent of the total seafood exported from Madagascar.

A significant increase in export to China immediately occurred after Madagascar signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 that governed shrimp export to the Chinese market. Numbers from FAO clearly show that China, after 2014, have more than doubled their import of Malagasy shrimps and prawns.

Another important development was the signing of the Tripartie Free Trade Agreement in July 2017, which stimulates intra-regional trade with other African countries. In addition, Madagascar has also recently made a requested to the WTO (the SPS-committee) for technical assistance for the implementation of FSMA in order to increase its market access to the United States.

Export products in 2017 (000 US$)

Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

The export of crustaceans, which mainly consist of frozen shrimps and prawns, made up 70% of the total value of seafood exports in 2016. The export of shrimp and prawns alone accounted for nearly 122 mln US$, presenting a significant increase from 2016 export values of 90 mln

US$. The main importer of the Malagasy shrimp was France (88 mln US$), followed by China (11.5 mln US$).

Prepared and preserved fish accounted for 22% of the export value in 2017, and consisted mainly of tuna, skipjack tuna and Atlantic bonito. In terms of export volume, these species made up 32% (8,391 MT) of the total export volume in 2017, which is an decrease of 3% compared to 2016. At the same time, crustaceans exports increased, accounting for 46% (9,383 MT) of the total export volume.

In 2017 the export of frozen fish increased significantly, as a result of a sudden export of yellowfin tuna to Italy (from 0 US$ the previous years up to 3.7 mln US$ in 2017). Molluscs, mainly consisting of octopus, were exported for 4.8 mln US$, mainly to France (1.9 mln US$) and Mauritius (1.88 mln US$).


Last updated: 01/06/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 1 3,108

Sector support programs

  • Southwest Madagascar Octopus project

    The octopus fishery is an important source for nutrition and income, being one of the few commodities available in rural southwest region of Madagascar. Having MSC certification as the ultimate objective, Blue Venture, together with local partners, is currently supporting a fishery improvement project covering the octopus fishery in this region.

    Blue Venture
  • North west Madagascar Shrimp Fishery Improvement Project

    The goal of the project is to meet the standards required for the shrimp industry to be MSC certified. To address the concerns and to improve the sustainability of shrimp fishing in the region, participants in the project will provide technical, financial and other support.

    WWF, Malagasy Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries, Malagasy Mistry of Environment, The Malagasy Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture, et al.
  • Indian Ocean Trepang’s breeding program (IOT)

    In 2016, Aqua Spark invested in the Madagascar-based company IOT. The industrial aquaculture company, with a focus on sea cucumber, work to achieve increased income for local fishermen while reducing pressure on wild fisheries. With Aqua Spark’s investment of 2.75 million USD, the goal is to make IOT the world’s leader in growing sea cucumbers, to create hundreds of jobs and help alleviate poverty in remote communities.

    Indian Ocean Trepang, Aqua Spark
  • IORA Sustainable Development Program (ISDP)

    The program aims to advance knowledge through the sharing of experience and best practices of marine aquaculture among IORA member states. The first training program was held May 2016, organised by the Government of Madagascar in collaboration with IORA.

    IORA, Malagasy government