The FAO defines a fishery as “people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats, purpose of the activities or a combination of the foregoing features.”

Aquaculture is also a modern tool of the fisheries sector involving the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. According to the FAO, this includes intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, and protection from predators. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.

Aquaculture began in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1940s, mainly for recreational and restocking purposes and was later oriented towards production of food for local consumption.  In 2006, capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with 110 million tons of food fish, 47% from aquaculture. Today, aquaculture continues to be the fastest growing animal food-producing sector with an average annual growth rate of 6.9% in the industry.

By 2030, FAO predicts aquaculture will be the dominant source for supplying fish to world markets, and less than half of the fish consumed worldwide will likely originate in capture fisheries.


Current Situation

Production of the marine capture fisheries of CRFM Member States

According to figures in the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism's “CRFM Statistics and Information Report – 2012”,  the total marine fish production of the CRFM Member States increased from 152,375 MT in 2001 to 175,017 MT in 2012 (live weight ), or from 131, 971 MT in 2001 to 154,741 MT in 2012 (meat weight).

Over the last two year period (2011 – 2012) the region produced an average of 170,183 MT (live weight) or 151,948 MT (meat weight) of marine capture fish annually. During the period the region‘s fish production in meat weight, grew by approximately 3% and the highest total meat weight production for the period 2001 - 2012 of 154,741 MT was recorded in 2012.

The production of the high seas fleets of Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis were not available. However the St. Vincent and the Grenadines fleet produced 1,715 MT in 2011 and 1,158 MT in 2012.

Over the last three years (2010 - 2013), Guyana and Suriname have consistently been the two top marine capture fish producers among the CRFM Member States (Guyana the highest and Suriname the second highest).

The average annual productions of Member States over the last two year period of 2011 – 2012, showed that the top six marine capture fish producers among the CRFM Member States for the period were: Guyana, Suriname, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and The Bahamas respectively.

Aquaculture fish production of CRFM Member States

The document, “CRFM Statistics and Information Report – 2012”, states that during the period 2011 – 2012 the region produced approximately 7,291 MT of fish annually from aquaculture systems.

Belize was the largest aquaculture producer over the period, producing approximately 5,479 MT annually followed by Jamaica producing approximately 897 MT annually. Together these two main producers (Belize and Jamaica) accounted for 91% of the region’s aquaculture output over the period.

According to the paper, Fisheries Subsidy and the Role of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations: The Caribbean Experience, the maritime space surrounding the Caribbean islands is substantially larger than land space, resulting in 82% of 2,205,407 km potential for the region’s fisheries sector.

However, most Caribbean countries, with the exception of Guyana and Suriname, do not produce enough fish to meet local consumption and are consequently net importers of fish and fish products. As most Caribbean countries are small island developing states (SIDS), marine capture remains the main method of capture.

This sector has the largest resource, and is an important livelihood and provides food security in the region. It is a significant contributor to economic and social development, and 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. The sector also provides opportunities for the socio-economically disadvantaged including the least educated and the rural poor.

However, the aquaculture sector needs increased development in the CARICOM region, with significant development limited to countries like Jamaica and Belize. Other countries like Guyana, Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have begun to put more emphasis on aquaculture as an area for development.

The approach to aquaculture development will have to be multifaceted in its focus, design and implementation in order to address the needs of those with ample land and fresh water resources and those with less of these resource endowments.

If aquaculture projects are more vigorously pursued, there is potential for commercial aquaculture development in offshore areas of Caribbean countries including:

  • Snappers (Lutjanidae, Lutjanus spp)
  • Dolphin fish or Mahi Mahi (Coryphaenidae, Corphaena hippurus)
  • Jacks and Pompanos (Carangidae, Seriola spp, Caranx spp and Trachinotus spp)
  • Tunas (Scombridae, Thunnus spp)
  • Cobia (Rachycentrum canadum)
  • Groupers (Serranidae, Epinephelus spp)


Business Case

Why invest in fisheries?

  • Expansion is key. Over 300 species of fish are caught commercially in the region, however of those, only 50 to 100 are commonly found in fish markets around the islands.
  • Both small and large scale fishery can be a sound investment in production for local and international consumption.
  • Resources are readily available, and in the case of over-exploited species, aquaculture can alleviate stress on populations.
  • Most, if not all of the islands have suitable offshore areas with great potential.
  • Fish continues to be a vital source of animal protein for low income families in the region, and therefore plays an important role in food security.
  • Adequate use of available areas can lead to the development of unexploited resources.
  • The potential to meet the growing demand for employment.

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