Fish farming is an increasingly popular activity in Brazil, due to natural conditions favorable to the production of fish. Brazil has a large supply of water resources and the largest freshwater supply in the world.
Brazil has big hydro potential with 8.500km of coastline and 5.3 million hectares of freshwater in natural and artificial reservoirs. This represents 13% of the total available freshwater reserves in the world. Rivers and lakes are the main places for fish farming, but it is also possible to do it in saltwaters. Another favorable aspect is the climate which is good for the cultivation of numerous species of fish, grain production and other ingredients used in fish feed.
Fish Farming Potential in Brazil
Currently, fish farming represents 33.5% of the fish production in Brazil. The state of Ceará is the largest aquaculture producer in the country, especially for tilapia and marine shrimp farming. The state of Rio Grande do Sul is the largest producer of freshwater fish. According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Brazil produces about 2 million tons of fish per year, from which 40% are from fish farming.
The average fish consumption in Brazil per inhabitant during a year is 14.5kg, which meets the recommendation of the World Health Organization. The agency recommends annual consumption of at least 12 kg per year.
Fish farming is one of the fastest growing activities in Brazil and generates a GDP of BRL 5 billion. Although it still does not support the high demand of the domestic market, since more than 50% of fish consumed in Brazil is imported, mainly from other countries in Latin America.
Despite the natural favorable conditions and a significant consumer market, Brazil does not occupy a prominent position in the global fish market. The industry is not fully structured and the methods are still very artisanal, requiring modernization and technological development.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, by 2030 Brazil could become a major producer of fish, as it is a country with huge fishing potential with national fish production reaching 20 million tons per year.
Origin of Fish Farming in Brazil
Fish farming began in Brazil during the 18th century, when the Dutch arrived in the Northeast region and built the first tanks on the Brazilian coast.
However, the development of fish farming technologies came only in the 1930s, when techniques were developed to induce spawning certain fish species in captivity. Fish farming, as a model of production, began to be developed from the 1960s, when the activity became more popular. In the Northeast region of the country in particular, numerous public dams, originally built for water storage, began to be used by coastal communities for fish farming.
In the 1980’s fish farming started to be an economic and profitable activity due to factors such as the improvement of technology, production on a commercial scale, the quality of the product offered and the financial returns of the activity.
In the 1990s, the emergence of several fishery areas further increased activity. This led to many projects spread across the country, increasing the demand for live fish and encouraging investors. Exotic species began to be farmed in Brazil with the goal of developing fish farming even further. The main species farmed are carp and tilapia.
Fish Farmed in Brazil
There are over 3 thousand species of fish in Brazil. Among the native fishes, many have great potential for fish farming, such as pintado, pirarucu and pirapitinga. Pintado and pirarucu are among the most noble fish in Brazil. The African species tilapia is the most cultivated and also the sold the most in supermarkets in Brazil, representing about 140 000 tons per year. Pintado and round fishes such as black pacu, pirapitinga and pacu are also species in high demand. The farming of the species pirarucu has grown due to high quality of the meat.