Shrimp trawler and artisanal vessel off the Guyana Coast. Trawlers are used in the capture of Atlantic seabob shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) while artisanal vessels capture mainly fish. Similar vessels are also used in Suriname

The Fisheries Sector in the CARICOM Region is an important source of livelihoods and sustenance to the inhabitants of the region. They are highly dependent on this resource for economic and social development. This resource also contributes significantly to food security, poverty alleviation, employment, foreign exchange earnings, development and stability of rural and coastal communities, culture, recreation and tourism. The sub sector provides direct employment for more than 120,000 fishers and indirect employment opportunities for thousands of others (particularly women) in the processing, marketing, boat building, net making and other support services.

According to Milton O Haughton in FISHERIES SUBSIDY AND THE ROLE OF REGIONAL FISHERIES MANAGEMENT ORGANISATIONS: THE CARIBBEAN EXPERIENCE, the maritime space of the Caribbean ACP countries[1] is substantially larger than the land space.  The total area of the Caribbean ACP states amount to 484,716 km2  whereas the total area of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is 2,205,407 km2 which means that 82% of the area occupied by states is within the maritime space. This includes both the seabed and water column within their different ecosystems and living and nonliving resources.

At the global level, the FAO in its publication "State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010" estimated capture fisheries production worldwide at about 90 million tonnes with an estimated first sale value of US$93.9 billion, comprising about 80 million tonnes from marine waters, and 10 million tonnes from inland waters.

At the national level across the region, fisheries is an important contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries as well as an important foreign exchange earner. The sector provides employment and livelihood opportunities for approximately 182,000 (Haughton) persons, most of whom are the socio-economically disadvantaged in the region including the least educated, rural poor and women.

The importance of the fisheries sub-sector to the CARICOM member countries is highlighted in Table 1 below. It is noteworthy that the per capita consumption of most CARICOM countries is above the global average of 16.4 kg (2006), and when compared to the 2005 global average for developing countries (13.8 kg per capita), only Haiti is below that average. This high per capita consumption exists despite the fact that fish is not always the cheapest source of animal protein in the region.



Contribution of Fisheries to GDP (%)

Number of fishers

Total number of fishing boats

Fisheries production 2008 (000kg)

Fish import 2008 (000kg)

Fish export 2008 (000kg)

Total human consumption (tonne)

Per Capita

Antigua & Barbuda

1.70 (2003)

1,088 (2004)

728 (2004)




3,530 (2003)

48.3 (2003)


0.90 (1990)

2,200 (2000?)

955 (NFSO 2002)




11,090 (2003)

41.1 (2003)



3,000-4,000 (2002?)

552 (NFSO 2002?)




3,625 (2003)

14.2 (2003)


2.00 (1994)


1100 (NFSO 2000)




1,596.8 (2000)

20.24 (2003)


2.10 (1994)

1,240 (-)





4,172 (203?)

52.2 (2003?)


6.63 (2002)

5,644 (2002?)

>1300 (2004)




34,642 (2003)

45.7 (2003)








21,342 (2003)

2.6 (2003)


0.41 (2001)

15,336 (2004)

4274 (2004)




49,465 (2003)

18.7 (2003)

St. Kitts & Nevis

0.45 (1994)






1,495 (2003)

35.6 (2003)

St. Lucia



690 – most motorised (NFSO 2006)




4,753 (2003)

31.9 (2003)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines



600  most motorised (NFSO 1999)




1,711 (1999)

15.1 (1999)




1150 (NFSO 2006)




7,124 (2003)

16.3 (2003)

Trinidad and Tobago



2184 (NFSO 2003)








CRFM Unless stated

CRFM Unless stated






Data for 2006 unless stated         ...Denotes no data
CRFM: Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, NFSO: National Fisheries Sector Review, FAO, LMDC: Landell Mills Development Consultants 2011

The structure of the fishing industry in the CARICOM Region is characterised by:

  • A large artisanal sector, where the majority of fisherfolk operate on a small scale basis concentrating on mostly primary production, utilising small boats and limited technology which is comprised traps, cast nets and hook and line.
  • An industrial fleet of large, modern, capital-intensive vessels which operate mainly in offshore areas, largely targeting high priced and value added species. Targeted species include spiny lobster (The Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica), conch (The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos Islands), shrimp and prawns (Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago), tuna (wider Caribbean) and flying fish (Eastern Caribbean). The migratory pelagic such as wahoo, tuna, flying fish and dolphin fish typically roam throughout the area.
  • An un-quantified recreational fisheries subsector spanning various aspects of tourism, including domestic and international sports fishing tournaments, yachting, fishing, weekend group and family fishing events. The Caribbean is rated by international magazines as a prime destination for international anglers for billfishes, such as marlins and sailfish, and for several other species of game fishes.
  • A small but growing aquaculture sub-sector which is at varying stages of development in the different Member States (Landell Mills Development Consultants 2011). Jamaica and Belize have a more established inland culture fisheries where the dominant species are red tilapia and shrimp respectively, while  Guyana and Suriname are seeking to establish a commercial aquaculture subsector. Less developed food fish culture exist in Dominica (shrimp), St. Lucia (sea moss and tilapia) and Trinidad and Tobago (tilapia).
  • A processing, distribution and marketing sub-sector which among other things is an important source of value added production in the form of processed shrimp and fish and the  provision of employment especially for women and unskilled persons.

Available statistics have shown that the annual nominal production of fish in the Caribbean states has been growing steadily since the 1950s reaching about 195,000 tonnes valued at approximately US$ 600 million in 2000. More recent statistics between 2004-2008 (Landell Mills Development Consultants) has shown a decline, with the average production over that period being 128,857.5 tonnes. Production in 2008 was estimated at 134,138.3 tonnes, representing an increase of 19.1% when compared to 112,583.3 tonnes produced in 2004. Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago accounted for 83.3% of the total output with individual contributions of 40.7%, 18.7%, 12.7% and 11.2% respectively over the period 2004-2008.

The total quantity of fish imports into the region in 2008 as recorded in the trade statistics was 21,522.6 tonnes whereas exports for the same period were 88,538.7 tonnes. The quantity of imports represents 24.3% of the total quantity of fish exports in the same period. Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago accounted for 83.5% of total fish imports with contributions of 45.5%, 26.9% and 11.1% respectively while Guyana dominated the exports accounting for 68.9% of total fish exports. Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas accounted for 29.7% with contributions of 23.6%, 3.2% and 2.9% respectively.

The total consumption of fish and fishery products in several of the smaller states in the region is higher than the local production and has to be satisfied by imports. Imports are also very high in some insular states and account for a large portion of their needs. It is estimated for example that Haiti and Jamaica import more than 60% of their needs which is dominated by dried, salted and smoked fish. Countries such as Barbados, Jamaica and St. Lucia with relatively large tourist industries also import fresh, chilled and frozen seafood products.

The fisheries sector presents many economic opportunities which can be exploited by CARICOM Member States. Approximately 90% of the fishers are artisanal and most operate exclusively in the coastal waters of their respective states, seldom venturing beyond 50 miles of their 200 miles EEZ. By not fully utilising their EEZ, parts of it are being utilized by third states to conduct illegal fishing.

Aquaculture is another sub-sector where there could be expansion to satisfy the region’s growing needs. Globally, in 2008, aquaculture production was reported to be 52.5 million tonnes valued at US$ 98.4 billion and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 6.6 percent.  There is great potential for expansion into ecologically sustainable aquaculture production within the region. This can be achieved both inland using freshwater and in the coastal areas using marine species and sea water (mariculture). The expansion of aquaculture will not only help to meet the high and growing demand for fish protein and employment, but should also reduce the pressure on wild stocks of fish thus giving them an opportunity to recover from over-exploitation and also help in the preservation of other marine life.

Fish plays a significant role in nutrition and food security within the region. It accounts for up to 7% of some member countries’ GDP and Its potential in terms of value added processing and links with others sectors, such as tourism, remains substantial.


Useful links

Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) headquartered Belize City, Belize, is an inter-governmental organization with its mission being to “To promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region”. The CRFM consist of three bodies – the Ministerial Council; the Caribbean Fisheries Forum; and the CRFM Secretariat. Its members are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations

The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO) is a network of fisherfolk organizations located in CRFM Member states. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for fisherfolk and develop a sustainable and profitable industry through networking, representation and capacity building. A Coordinating Unit, made up of fisherfolk leaders from various member states was established to implement an action plan leading to the development and launching of the regional network.

Aquaculture in Guyana

An introduction on the aquaculture sector in Guyana by Kevin Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., Associate Director of International Programs, University of Arizona. It provides an overview of developments, production and the potential of the sector.

Guyana Office for Investment - Investment in Fisheries

An overview of the investment opportunities in the Seafood and Aquaculture sectors in Guyana

Aquaculture in JamaicaAn overview of the aquaculture sector in Jamaica. This document provides an historical background, the types of species cultivated, production statistics, education and research, investment opportunities and future prospects for the sector.

Aquaculture Association of Trinidad and Tobago

A website by the Aquaculture Association of Trinidad and Tobago on aquaculture development in the country.

Potential for Aquaculture in the Bahamas and Constraints to its Development

A document by the FAO on the potential for aquaculture and the constraints to its development in the Bahamas

Aquaculture in Belize

An overview of the aquaculture sector in Belize

The National Aquaculture Association of Guyana

The National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG)  represent all elements of the industry, including farmers, entrepreneurs, feed producers, members of the government (research and development), and non-governmental organizations. NAAG also receives support from various donor agencies, including USAID/GTIS.  NAAG’s mission is the development of Guyana’s aquaculture sector. Their vision is for aquaculture to become “. . . the leading economic sector in Guyana by 2015.” With assistance provided by USAID/GTIS, NAAG is also a member of the American Tilapia Association and the World Aquaculture Society.

The Fish Site

Mega Pesca Resource Centre
Provides technical information on food and fisheries policy and development


The ACP FISH II Programme is a 4.5-year programme financed by the European Development Fund on behalf of ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states) countries. The aim of the programme is to improve fisheries management in ACP countries so as to ensure that fisheries resources occurring in the waters under the jurisdiction of these countries are exploited in a sustainable manner.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is an inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas. ICCAT compiles fishery statistics from its members and from all entities fishing for these species in the Atlantic Ocean, coordinates research, including stock assessment, on behalf of its members, develops scientific-based management advice, provides a mechanism for Contracting Parties to agree on management measures, and produces relevant publications.

Private Sector Trade Note Vol. 21 - CARICOM's Rock Lobster Trade

Some Caribbean Fish Festivals

Oistins Fish Festival - Barbados

Oistins Fish Fry - Barbados

Friday Night Fish Fry at Anse-la-Raye - St. Lucia

Trinidad Fish Festival

Gouyave Fish Fridays - Grenada

This website has been developed by the CARICOM Secretariat with the kind assistance of UNDP/CARUTA and the European Union

Website designed by Green Leaf Designs Inc.