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  ISSUE No. 70
The Mauritius Seafood Industry

Global Context

The global export value of fish and other sea products has increased dramatically over recent decades, soaring from USD 15 billion in 1980 to USD 130 billion today. This classifies fish among the largest traded international commodity. Almost 200 countries supply fish and seafood products to the global marketplace consisting of more than 800 commercially important species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the consumption of fish and fishery products increased from approximately 38 million tons in 1960 to 130 million tons by 2012, a 242% increase, representing an annual growth rate of around 3%. While a portion of the increase in demand has been fueled by population growth, another factor is that a greater volume of seafood is being used for the production of fish meals and related products.


The seafood industry represents 1.5% of national GDP and it employs around 16,000 people. The sector is one of the fastest growing industries with an average growth of around 6% since 2008. Export earnings have grown from MUR 9.481 billion in 2011 to MUR 14.607 billion in 2013. As far as this year is concerned, seafood exports for the period Jan – June 2014 amount to MUR 6.833 billion.

Europe remains a major market for Mauritian seafood exports. Processed tuna is the main product and the country supplies around one third of the UK tinned-tuna market. Asia, particularly Japan and China, are also attractive markets which are already contributing significantly in terms of export earnings. Besides the export of raw fish to these markets, value-added sashimi grade tuna is being exported to Japan. It is expected that processing will involve more value addition.

Key Facts (2013):

Contribution to GDP

1.5 %

Exports, including Re-export

MUR 14.607 billion

No. of callings of foreign fishing vessels

1, 000

No. of licenses issued to foreign fishing vessels


Revenue from fishing licenses

MUR 69 million

Approximate employment in seafood processing

6, 000 jobs

Approximate indirect employment in the seafood sector (ancillary services)

10, 000 jobs

Mauritius – China agreement

Since 2013 Mauritius has intensified its diversification strategy, targeting the Chinese market. During the visit of the Minister of Fisheries to China in July 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of China and the Ministry of Fisheries. The agreement was signed with the objective to facilitate market access by ensuring the safety of fish and fisheries products exported by Mauritius to the People’s Republic of China. It has opened the way for investments by Chinese companies in fisheries and seafood related activities.

In 2013, seafood exports to the People’s Republic of China recorded a growth of 63% compared to 2012. Around MUR 67 million worth of frozen fish were exported in 2013 as compared to MUR 41 million in 2012. The prospects for 2014 are very promising. For the first semester alone, the value of sea products exported to China is estimated at around MUR 30 million.

Chinese projects

Following a study carried out by the Shandong Xinfa Fishery Group Co Ltd, the Mauritian business environment is perceived as an ideal business platform. The Group thus decided to set up a subsidiary in Mauritius for its fishing activities. Shandong Xinfa Fishery Group Co Ltd is one of the largest integrated fishing companies in China. It operates around 89 fishing vessels worldwide, 2 fishing harbors, cold rooms with a total capacity of some 120,000 tons, 3 fish processing plants, 1 ship yard and a fishing net factory.

Xinfa Overseas Company Ltd has invested in 5 purse seine fishing vessels all of which sail under the Mauritius Flag. It has now engaged in commercial tuna fishing since January 2014. Part of the catch is sold to local canneries and the remaining exported to China. The company has invested USD 20 million in the project.

Other projects

Interest has also been expressed by other Chinese promoters to develop seafood related projects. Of importance is the LHF Marine Development project which relates to the development of Mauritius as a fishing hub for the company’s operations in the Indian Ocean. The promoters have been granted initial authorizations by local authorities and the company is presently working towards securing its assets for its Mauritius operations. The promoters expect to commence operations by the first quarter of 2015.

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