The latest figures on fish production in Brazil for 2002 have just been
released. Why the delay? The Environmental Protection Agency (Ibama) reports
that it is not easy to gather the data for its fish survey and it is also very
expensive, given the distances involved.
The news about 2002 fish production and exports, although a long time coming, is good. Production reached slightly over one million tons, up 7.1%, compared to 2001. Exports also rose: up 36.5%, which resulted in a trade surplus.
Iran Lopes, an official at the secretariat of Fish Resources, says that the next reports will be more timely. “We should have the data from 2003 in order by December of this year,” he promises.
The 2002 report shows that Santa Catarina, in the southern region, is Brazil’s biggest producer of extractive marine fishing (that is, ocean fishing) with 118,120 tons.
Pará, in the north, is in second place with 104,705 tons, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 56,698 tons. However, Pará leads in continental fishing with 67,199 tons, followed by Amazonas with 66,581 tons.
Aquaculture is a strong growth sector in Brazil because of government policy, investments and the knowledge that regular fishing can harm the environment, explains Lopes. In 2001, the sector grew 34.6%.
As for exports, in 2002 they were mainly shrimp, lobster and special cuts of various types of fish, which resulted in a trade surplus of US$ 139 million.
The Brazilian government has decided to provide incentives for deep-sea fishing in Brazil in order to increase fish production (deep-sea is below 500 meters).
Work will begin to bring universities and the private sector together so studies can be made on the potential 500 meters below the surface of the waters along Brazil’s 8,500 kilometer long coastline.
Last year Brazilian fish production reached 755,000 tons, most of which was tuna. A government program to expand and modernize Brazil’s fishing fleet (Proflota) has a budget of US$ 485 million (1.5 billion reais) for this year. It seeks to create 10,000 jobs (2,500 direct ones) in the sector.
Brazil has a cabinet-level Minister for Fishing and one of his assistants, Carim Bacha, the director of Development, says that Brazil should insist on maintaining a 200-kilometer exclusion zone along its coast.
“We have a right to do that. And we will also make increased fish production a specific government goal,” says Bacha, who adds that Brazil and its Mercosur partners are negotiating fish exports to the European Union which would maintain the exclusion zone and attract investments by Europeans in the sector.
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