Mauritius | Agro & Food

August 02, 2012

Fishing Industry: When Self-Sufficiency in Fish?

The fisheries sector contributes about 1% to GDP and employs 11 000 Mauritian people. The local production of fish in 2011 was 5,411 tonnes, down 2.5% compared to 2010. The average consumption of local seafood per capita per year is about 20 kg. Focus on the industry.

Mauritius has an extensive exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers 1.9 million km2 off the coast of Mauritius, Rodrigues, St Brandon, Agalega, Tromelin and Chagos. 

This area, equivalent to almost one thousand times the size of our island, and which has now been extended following a recent agreement with the Seychelles, has vast stocks of various fish species. Yet in 2011, we imported 162,000 tons of fish, seafood and other food products made from fish, for an amount of Rs 9.2 billion. 

These imports represent an increase from 2010, when 156,000 tons were imported in an amount of Rs 7.8 billion.Note the import of fish for the first quarter of 2012 amounted to Rs 1.9 billion for 31,000 tons. As we position ourselves as a hub for the export of fishing, we continue to import a large volume for our local consumption. When will a self-sufficient in seafood? 

The sector "seafood" has developed into a thriving industry in the past ten years. Domestic exports of fish and other food products containing fish totaled 60,905 tons in 2010, earning Rs 7.7 billion to the country. In 2011, there was a decline in export volumes in 2011, with 54,867 tons exported. However, the value of exports was almost the same at Rs 7.7 billion. The "seafood hub" is expected to be consolidated through the development of a new economy blue, with the optimal exploitation of our marine resources. 

This new industry of the sea, which goes beyond fishing, was announced in the recent speech of the government program. For some years now, the authorities consider the fisheries sector as an important pillar of our economy.The goal is to transform Mauritius into a hub for trade in seafood, storage, processing, distribution and re-export of sea products, fresh, chilled or frozen seafood high value. 

It is also about promoting aquaculture and attract foreign investors. Under the policy of democratization, traditional fishermen are encouraged to become entrepreneurs. In addition to modern facilities available at the Freeport, the park's infrastructure in the fisheries sector has recently developed a 'Fish Auction Market' at Bain des Dames, which came into operation is still pending. 

The main companies operating in the seafood sector

  • Marine Farm Ltd Mahebourg
  • Seskel Enterprise Ltd.
  • Pelagic Process Ltd.
  • Princes Tuna (Mtius) Ltd.
  • Wed Mascarene Ltd.
  • The cold Mascarene Ltd.
  • Tuna Mascarene Ltd.
  • Dayanand Bholah Seafoods Ltd.
  • Sea Food Hub Ltd
  • Sapmer Ltd.
  • Bella Amigo Ltd.
  • Hassen Taher Seafoods Ltd.
  • Marlin Exports Ltd.

Different segments:  


The traditional fishing practiced by small fishing inside the lagoon and near the outer reef, reports of fresh fish to 60 "fish landing stations" along the coast of Mauritius. These fishermen use wooden canoes of six to ten feet long for fishing in lagoons and outer reefs. They use nets, lines equipped with hooks, harpoons, large nets and gillnets. Fish species are mostly captains, shoemakers, mullet, among others. 

In the pews 

This type of fishing takes place on shallow areas of the Mascarene Plateau, called benches, about 500 km from Mauritius, where the fishing takes several weeks. The catch is consumed locally and about 30% of the total fish consumption in Mauritius. 


Industrial fishing is mainly the exploitation of tuna resources in the Indian Ocean. This corresponds to about 40% of the annual catch, and provides the raw material to the local tuna cannery. Some local businesses, such as Princes Tuna and Tuna Mascarenes are operating tuna canneries for export, the backbone of our "seafood hub". Tuna is fished by boats with purse seines or longlines. There are several foreign vessels operating under licenses issued by the Mauritian authorities. 


Freeport plays a key role in the fish industry. 43 656 tonnes of seafood were imported in 2010, then re-export. In 2011, 46,871 tonnes of fish were imported by the Freeport area. The value is around Rs 1.9 billion. 

Fishing License 

Type Species Fishing Fees 

Longline (longline) U.S. $ 6 000 for a period of U.S. $ 2 000 for an additional 30 days 
90 days Thon: yellowfin, bigeye, albacore 
(Yellowfin) marlin, swordfish, sharks 
Purse seine (seine) U.S. $ 13,000 for a period Skipjack (bonito), 
90 day small yellowfin, bigeye small 
Trawling (trawl) Determined according to the case at Small pelagic mackerel 

New opportunities 

The breeding 

Farming, or 'fish farming' large scale, is one of the segments with high potential. La Ferme Marine de Mahebourg (FMM), is the most cited example in the field of local aquaculture. This company is engaged in the production of marine fish, mainly the croaker in cages installed in the lagoon and uses advanced techniques. Other suitable sites for fish farming in the lagoon have been identified in the south of the island. 

The sea cucumber 

In several countries, but especially in Asia, sea cucumbers, or beche-de-mer is a staple food for people, with strong demand. Besides the culinary use, they also constitute a new niche for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetics. Sometimes, their internal organs such as gonads and intestines are fermented or dried to give niche products with high commercial value used as dietary supplements. 

This is why countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines each year in the export large quantities to China and other Asian markets. But overuse has adverse effects on the marine ecosystem. Note that the sea cucumber fishing is prohibited in Mauritius since 1 March 2012, until February 29, 2016. Any violation of this regulation is liable to a fine of Rs 500,000. By cons, rearing pond is an excellent opportunity. 

The Board of Investment 

The Board of Investment (BoI) has also the task of promoting the "seafood hub". A department dedicated to Seafood, under the leadership of Director Seewraj Nundlall, is the showcase of the sector to foreign investors. According to the organization, the opportunities available are: transhipment of fish, processing of seafood and activities such as filleting, packaging, canning, vacuum packing and production of meals ready-to -eat. Note that the total amount of foreign direct investment in agriculture and fishery in 2011 was around Rs 177 million only. 

International agreements 

Mauritius has signed several agreements with the European Union and the Federation of Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Associations, allowing European and Japanese vessels to fish in our waters. The boats can Mauritian, them fish in Seychelles waters under other agreements. Foreign vessels must obtain a 'fishing license' from the Ministry concerned in Mauritius.



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