Fish production: giving the fish, teaching to fish and partnering

Brazil, due to its continental size and Africa with its equally enormous territory, display great potential for the exploitation in the fishing sector, which will be extremely important for commercial interests, as well as for facing the problems on hunger, which still inflict people from the lowest poverty levels. The situation has been bad, for both regions, the inexistence of few efforts for embracing this field of interest, distortions which are beginning to be faced, through the first partnerships and cooperative terms signed by South American countries and African governments.

This is the case of a formalized agreement between Brazil and the Ivory Coast, which took place in 2013. This cooperative agreement signed by the Fishing and Agriculture Ministry and the Animal and Fishery Resource Ministry, whereas technical training initiatives are planned for artisanal and sport fishing, production of aquatic organisms, including fresh water fish farmers, shrimp and mollusk farming, strengthening scientific knowledge in monitoring and control of fishing and agriculture. The partnership was created to contribute to the young people of the Ivory Coast, so that they can study and work on aquaculture farms in Brazil and then return to Africa after enhancing their knowledge on the productive chain.

This is for the time being, it is just an isolated initiative and a short-term implementation time, although, the experience has already been noted for its potential in generating other agreement capable of making the two geographical areas separated only by the ocean. One of the main Brazilian specialist in this field, professor Manuel Andrade, the formal assistant secretary of the Fishing and Aquiculture of Ceará State, in the northeastern region of Brazil, where there are 578 km of coastline, emphasizes the need for fishing production in Africa, which is still only beginning to be developed and for this reason needs support and incentives for the generation of new markets. “Africans are in the same phase as we were twenty years ago”, he confirms.

The specialist, however, see impressive opportunities for partnerships between Brazil and Africa in the new few years, especially due to the increased demand from the other side of the ocean. Brazil harnesses more sophisticated technology and so they have entered into new formal agreements and partnerships in order to develop the production in Africa. “The Chinese are now entering in Africa with modern fishing vessels, catching great amounts of fish, but just ship them back to the country of origin”, Andrades explains as he believes that the production of ocean fish is the future of this market. Brazil has not yet begun in investing in this modality.

Angola is another Country along the African coast that achieves good results from its fishing. The report disclosed by the Fishing Ministry, states that the fishing industry, semi-industrial, and artisanal totals around 442 thousand tons. Even though, the aquiculture is taking slow steps, as in Brazil, the actions for fomenting this activity by the Federal government have been almost mandatory for encouraging private production. The results from the production last year were, although greater than those registered in 2013, when 370 thousand tons were caught.

A dwarf at present, it will be a giant in the future

In spite of over 8 thousand kilometers of seacoast and about 8 billion and 200 million square meters of fresh water, Brazil is the largest reservoir in the world; it is still not ranked as one of the major world-class fish producers. Currently it is ranked as 12th, producing 480 tons of fish in captivity. The Fishing and Aquiculture Ministry (MPA) is working to quadruple the Brazilian aquiculture production in the next few years, making the Country become one of the fifth largest on the planet by 2020, producing around 2 million tons of production.

One of the efficient and economic solutions to make Brazil achieve this ranking is according to the Fishing Minister, Helder Barbalho, it is necessary to standardize the production of hydroelectric power plant reservoirs, such as Tucuruí (TO) or Itaipu (PR). The necessity for environmental licensing, however is considered as an obstacle to the sector.

“The strategy of reservoirs is the first item to be cut, for decreasing investments and debureaucratisation to make it possible to achieve extraordinary production”, Barbalho explained during his visit to the Federal Senate this April. Furthermore, according to the minister, the “consumption dream of aquiculture” is the production of tilapia in Itaipu. Just by enabling 3% of the production capacity of the local reservoir, it is possible to achieve almost the total production in captivity in the Country. “We are speaking about Brazil producing 480 thousand tons, thus Itaipu has the capacity of producing 400 thousand of that. If we are able to get the support from the state governments, the unblocking of bureaucratic bottlenecks, just our reservoir will make the target jump from 480 thousand to two million tons”.

Professor Manuel Andrade, a specialist in this field and a former member of the Ceará government, he emphasizes that the Brazilian production has risen by 60% in the last ten years. He considers that the percentage is still small when facing the results from other countries in regards to their growth rate. The increased production, according to the professor’s emphasis, has been concentrated on aquiculture fishing, whereas private initiative has displayed greater interest.

According to the warning of the researcher, the technological conditions for food safety of this product in Brazil have a long ways to go in their development. “The product is sold fresh and must be stored for a short time, in order to arrive at the consumer for ideal quality conditions”, he said, the climatic factors in the past few years have interfered in the fish production, especially in the Brazilian northeastern region. However, the production even in unstable conditions has stabilized. “The dams in the Ceará reservoirs are very low, and that production has moved to larger dams, such as Castanhão and Orós”.

Safe fishing

As the artisanal production is still greater than the industrial, the Federal Government has encouraged the producers to register in the Fishing Ministry in order to guarantee benefits to guarantee their financial support during periods of time when fishing is prohibited, such as the case of “Seguro Defeso” (Defense Insurance), which guarantees resources to fishermen who do not produce during certain periods of the year. According to official statistics, there are currently about 1 million fishermen who have not registered, while there are only 200 thousand who have performed the procedure. So, there are five times more fishermen estimated in Brazil than those who have registered.