Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


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February 2006


Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture


Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación







Total Area:

5 128 km2


4 828 km2


300 km2

Marine Area of Archipelagic Waters:

about 7 158 km2

Marine Area of Territorial Sea:

about 9 337 km2

Shelf Area (to 200 m):

about 20 400 km2

Length of Coastline (Trinidad):

about 420 km

Length of Coastline (Tobago):

about 120 km

Population (2005):

1.3 million

GDP at market prices (current, 2005):

US$ 14.8 billion

GDP per capita (current, 2005):

US$ 10 440

GDP of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at market prices (2005):

US$ 98 million

Contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to total GDP at market prices (2005):


GDP of Fishing to Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at market prices (2005):

US$ 10 million

Contribution of fishing to the GDP of agriculture, forestry and fishing (2005):


Contribution of fisheries to total GDP (2005):









Commodity Balance (2003):








Total supply


Per caput supply


For direct human consumption (marine):

9 743

12 993

4 478

18 257


Fish for animal feed and other purposes









Estimated Employment (2003):

Harvesting: Trinidad

4 000
1 100

Processing: Trinidad


Wholesale Purchasers: Trinidad


Employees in Wholesale Purchasing: Trinidad


Road Side Vending (Retailing): Trinidad


Retailing at fish markets: Trinidad


Supplies and Services: Trinidad



7 085

Total Labour Force (2003):

596 500

Estimated employment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (2003):

30 000

Contribution of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing to the Labour Force:


Contribution of Fisheries to employment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing:


Contribution of Fisheries to total employment:


Gross value of fisheries output (at ex- vessel prices) (2003) :

US$ 21 million


Value of imports (2004):

US$ 14 275 000

Value of exports (2004):

US$ 9 388 000


The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago comprises the island of Trinidad and the island of Tobago. The island of Trinidad is about 105 kilometres long and 77 kilometres broad with an area of 4 828 square kilometres.


The island of Tobago is about 51 kilometres long and 18 kilometres broad with an area of 300 square kilometres.


Figure 1. Geographical location of Trinidad and Tobago.


Image: trinidad_en-1.jpg




Overall Fishery Sector


The overall fisheries sector of Trinidad and Tobago illustrates that it comprises activities in marine fisheries, aquaculture, inland fisheries and an ornamental fish trade. However, it must be noted that the marine sub-sector dominates activities in the overall sector while the inland and aquaculture sub-sectors make minor contributions. This is illustrated in terms of the low employment, investment and production in these areas.


The Marine Sub-Sector


Catch profile


It is to note that the total landing of all species in Trinidad and Tobago in 2005 was estimated in the vicinity of 13 500 tons. The inshore artisanal contributed an estimated 75 per cent-80 per cent of this landing. The consistent collection of data on fish landings and other information is not conducted at all in the landing sites around the islands due to the constraints of the isolated nature of some sites, the fishing habits of the fishermen, the unavailability of appropriate numbers of data collectors and funding. Data on landings, however, are collected at nineteen (19) landing sites in Trinidad and about five (5) in Tobago. The data collected at these landing sites are utilized to assist in estimating the landings at other beaches based on observations, reports, experience or the application of a raising factor.


Landing sites


There is a total of ninety-eight (98) identifiable fish landing sites utilized by the fishing fleets of the country of which sixty-five (65) are located on the island of Trinidad and thirty-three (33) on the island of Tobago.


In Trinidad, thirty-nine (39) or 60 per cent of these sites are located on the sheltered West Coast of the island in the Gulf of Paria. On the East Coast which is open to Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing winds there are nine (9) or 14 per cent of the landing sites with a similar amount, nine (9) or 14 per cent or the North Coast where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet. On the South Coast, in the Columbus Channel which separates the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago from the Republic of Venezuela, eight (8) or 12 per cent of the sites.


On the island of Tobago, nineteen (19) or 58 per cent of the landing sites are located on the calmer Caribbean Sea on the West Coast while fourteen (14) or 42 per cent are on the more open and windy Atlantic Ocean on the East Coast.


These landing sites range from beaches with no infrastructure to others with landing ramps and jetties and facilities for the storage of fishing gear and equipment, and personal effects of fishermen and the repair of fishing vessels and engines. A few possess structures and facilities to accommodate the wholesale and retail of fish and the storage and manufacture of ice. While the great majority of these landing sites can accommodate the artisanal fleet, only a limited few can accommodate the semi-industrial and industrial fleets. Three of these are located in Trinidad and one in Tobago. It is to be noted also that the relatively more developed landing sites in Trinidad are located on the sheltered western coastline in the Gulf of Paria where most of the fishing fleet operate and more amenable to infrastructural works due to the somewhat calmer waters and sea conditions. Developments on the other coastlines are adversely affected by heavy sea conditions and rougher waters.


A similar situation exists in Tobago where the coastline on the Caribbean Sea may lend itself easier to infrastructural development as compared to the coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.



Fishing production means


The fishing fleet


The fishing fleet of Trinidad and Tobago is comprised of artisanal, semi- industrial and industrial vessels.


The artisanal fleet includes those vessels between seven (7) and nine (9) metres in overall length and are usually open vessels, powered by outboard motors between 45 and 75 HP and operate on a day basis in the conduct of their fishing operations. They are estimated to number around 2 184 (1 500 in Trinidad and 684 in Tobago) and account for not less than 96 per cent of the fleet. These vessels operate in inshore and coastal waters and are engaged in fishing a method such as the use of gillnets, fish traps, trolling, a-la-vive, and banking and manually operated demersal and pelagic longlines. An estimated 5 100 fishermen (4 000 in Trinidad and 1 100 in Tobago) operate and make a livelihood from these vessels. It is estimated that the artisanal fleet produces about between 75 per cent -80 per cent of the total fish landings in Trinidad and Tobago and catch is landed at the ninety-eight (98) landing sites around the coasts of both Trinidad and Tobago.


The semi-industrial fleet are those fishing vessels of between ten (10) and twenty-three (23) metres in overall length which engage in fishing for demersal and pelagic species other than shrimp. These vessel are powered by inboard engine of up to 365 HP, carry crews of up to five (5) persons with some having the capability of remaining at sea for up to fifteen (15) days. They operate in the offshore areas and in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and engage primarily in mechanized pelagic and demersal longlining, gillnetting and fish trapping. There are about fifty-five (55) such vessels in the fleet with 45 operating out of Trinidad and 10 operating out of Tobago. Those in Tobago engage in fishing for flying fish and associated pelagics and also demersals. These vessels, because of their size and draught are somewhat limited as to the landing sites which offer safe operations in the discharge of their catch.


The industrial fleet which numbers twenty- five (25) is comprised of those Gulf of Mexico type double-rigged shrimp trawlers in the size range of between 10 meters and 23 metres in overall length. The size of the fleet is restricted to not more than by the authorities the time and area of operation are also regulated. The average crew size is about four (4) and major areas of operation are legally designated locations in Gulf of Paria on the West and North Coasts and in the Columbus Channel in the South.


Table 1. Composition of the Fishing Fleet of Trinidad and Tobago



Vessel Size (OL)

Estimated No.


7 to 9 metres: Trinidad


1 500


Powered by outboard motors and engaged in day fishing with gill- nets, fish traps, trolling, a-la-vive, banking, demersal and pelagic long line

10 to 13.7 metres: Tobago


Powered by inboard engines, may spend up to five days at sea with gillnet fishing; demersal and pelagic longlines; fish traps

10 to 23 meters: Trinidad














Powered by inboard engines and may spend up to 15 days at sea fishing with demersal and pelagic long lines; fish traps and gillnets.



Gulf of Mexico double–rigged shrimp trawlers spending up to 21 days at sea.



2 264

Main resources


The available marine resources for exploitation by the national fleet reside in the inshore coastal waters comprising the Archipelagic Waters and the Territorial Sea and parts of the Exclusive Economic Zone. However, the level and efficiency of this exploitation are influenced by the capability of the fleet in terms of the distance which they are able to operate safely from shore combined with the length of time they can spend at sea and return with a well preserved catch. A vast proportion of the annual catch is landed by the artisanal vessels (7–9 metres in overall length) of which there are approximately 2 184 vessels. These operate on a daily basis in the inshore coastal waters of the Archipelagic Waters and the Territorial Sea of Trinidad and Tobago. They are engaged in the methods of gillnetting, beach seining, trolling, banking, manual pelagic and demersal longlining. Many of the species, both pelagic and demersal, which are targeted by this section of the fleet, are considered to be fully exploited and in many cases overexploited.


The semi-industrial fleet of 55 vessels operate further offshore than the artisanal vessels and spend more extended time at sea since they are equipped with accommodation for crew, navigation and safety equipment and storage facilities for ice to preserve the catch. These vessels engage in mechanized pelagic and demersal longline fishing and fish trapping and catches include tuna species, swordfish and other billfish species, king fish dolphin fish, tile fish, snapper species, groupers and sharks. Those vessels which are based in Tobago target the flying fish and associated species which prey on the flying fish such as tunas, billfishes, dolphin fish, king fish and shark especially during the period November to July. They target the demersal species during the rest of the year.


The industrial fleet of 25 vessels as noted earlier are the Gulf of Mexico type double-rigged shrimp trawlers which target white, red and brown shrimp on the west, north and south coasts of Trinidad. The operations of these vessels are regulated in terms of size of mesh, location and season. They operate primarily in the inshore near coast areas close to the breeding grounds of the shrimp.


Table 2. List of Popular Marine Species in the Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago




Scientific Name

Common Name


Scientific Name

Common Name

























































Acanthocybium solandri

Arius proops


Bagre bagre

Caranx hippos

Carcharhinus limbatus

Cetropomus ensiferus

Chaeodipterus faber



Conodon nobilis


Coryphaena hippurus

Cynoscion jamaicesis


Decapterus tabl


Diapterus rhombeus

Elagatis bipinnulata

Epinephelus flavlimbatus


Epinephelus itajara

Euthynnus alletteratus

Haemulon bonariense

Haemulon melanurum


Haemulon plumieri

Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus

Hurudichthys affinis


Holocentrus ascensionis

Istiophorus albica



Thunnus albacares


Thunnus atlanticus






Wohoo, king fish

Catfish, gillbacker



Black tip shark


Snook, brochet


Paoua, Atlantic spade fish

Patto, Atlantic bumper

Yellow cro-cro, Cro-cro grunt

Dolphin fish, Dorado

Silver salmon, Jamaican weakfish

Robon, Redtail scad, jack



Rainbow runner


Grouper, Yellowfin grouper

Grouper, Jewfish


Bonito, Little tunny

Grunt,Black Grunt

Grunt, Cottonwick grunt

Grunt, White grunt

Palomette, Bluntnose jack

Flying fish., Four wing flying fish

Sqirrelfish, Maryanne

Sailfish, Atlantic sailfish, Ocean gar


Yellowfin tuna



Blackfin tuna, Albacore (Tobago)






























































Lutjanus griseus



Lutjanus jocu


Lutjanus purpureus

Lutjanus synagris


Macrodon ancylodon



Makaira nigricans

Micropogonias furnieri


Mugil curema


Oligoplites saurus

Opisthonema oglinum

Paraexocoetus brachypterus

Penaeus notialis



Penaeus schmitti




Penaeus subtillis



Rhizoprionodon lalandii

Rhomboplites aurorbens


Scomberomorus brasiliensis

Scomberomorus cavalla

Seriola rivoliana

Sphyraena guachancho

Sphyrna lewini



Tarpon atlanticus



Trachinotus carolinus

Trichiurus lepturus

Xiphopenaeus kroyeri








Pargue, Black pargue,Grey snapper

Pargue, Dog snapper

Redfish, Southern red, Redfish

Lane snapper, Walliacke, Redfish

Yellow mouth salmon, German salmon, Rock salmon

Marlin, Blue marlin

Cro-cro, Racando, White mouth croaker

Mullet, White mullet


Atlantic thread herring, herring

Flying fish, Guineaman

Pink shrimp, Southern pink shrimp

White shrimp, Southern white shrimp, Cork shrimp

Brown shrimp, Southern brown shrimp

Puppy shark, Shark


Plumhead, B-Liner,Redfish, Vermilion snapper

Carite, Serra Spanish mackerel

Kingfish, King mackerel




Hammerhead shark

Garfish, Atlantic needlefish

Tarpon, Grande ecaille


Pompano, Florida pompano



Seabob, Honey shrimp, Jinga.




Management Applied to Main Fisheries


Trinidad and Tobago in terms of policy is committed to the sustained development and management of its marine resources and the protection of its ecosystems. In support of approach, the country became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982 which was ratified in 1986. In keeping with this commitment it has adopted or ratified all those critical Conventions, Protocols and Agreements which support and promote sustainable management of the marine resources. Among the more significant of these are the:


and Flora

Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas

Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks


Notwithstanding the support by the country of these international instruments, the critical issues and challenges in management of the fisheries, especially the coastal marine resources include the following:


juvenile fish

The existing management measures in terms of enforceable legislation and regulations can be classified as being inadequate to achieve the goals and objectives of obtaining that level of sustainable development which may be expressed in relation to policy or commitment. The general picture in this consideration is expressed by examining the range of critical issues or challenges of management of the fisheries which have been enumerated immediately above.


In relation to the application of management measures to main fisheries, those of a technical nature include the institution of closed season, closed and regulated cod end mesh size for the semi-industrial and industrial vessels which may engage in the harvesting of shrimp. Mesh size regulations also apply for a limited number of species located in the estuaries and inshore areas. There are also regulations which prohibit the conduct of fishing activities in areas which have been designated as marine parks.


Input controls are constrained by the fact that it is an open access fishery which does not place restrictions (except for the industrial fleet engaged in the capture of shrimp) on the numbers and types of vessels, fishing gear, fishing trips and fishing days. As a consequence, there is no control of fishing effort except as noted for the industrial trawl fleet.


Output controls in terms of total allowable catch (TAC) individual, group or community transferable or non-transferable quotas do not form part of the management tool under the existing regulations. In addition, there are no economic incentives in terms of output however, with respect to inputs, subsidies and incentives on gasoline and diesel fuel, the purchase of engines vessel, fishing gear and equipment are available to harvesters.

The proposed Marine Fisheries Management Act is expected to address al the issues which have been raised above.


Fishermen communities


It was noted earlier that there is an estimated ninety-eight (98) fish landing sites around the coastlines of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. However, in relation to Fishermen’s Cooperatives and Associations there was a total estimate of thirty-six (36) of these organizations which are either functional or in some state of dormancy or inactivity in the year 2003. On the island of Trinidad, twenty-four (24) organizations have been identified with 17 being active and the other seven (7) being considered inactive. In Tobago, a total of twelve (12) have been identified with ten (10) being active and two (2) being inactive.


Table 3a. Active and Inactive Fishermen’s Associations/Cooperatives in Trinidad-2003



Landing Site



Landing Site




Almoorings Fishing Cooperative Society Ltd.



Las Cuevas Fishing Association



Blanchisseuse Fishing Association



Longliners Association



Brickfield Fishermen‘s Association



Morne Diablo Fishing Association



Cacandee Fishing Association



Moruga/Grande Chemin/La Ruffin Fishing Association



Carenage Fishermen’s Association



National Organization of Fishing and Allied Cooperative Society LtD



Carli Bay Fishing Cooperative Society Ltd.



North Coast Multi-purpose fishing Cooperative Society Ltd



Cedros Fishing Cooperative Society Ltd.



Orange Valley Cooperative Society Ltd



Claxton bay Fishermen’s Association



Otaheiti Fishing Association



Cocorite Fishing Association



San Fernando Fishing Cooperative Society Ltd



Erin Fishing Association



Trinidad and Tobago Game Fishing Association



Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (NGO)



Trinidad and Tobago Trawler Association



Icacos Fishing Association



Waterloo Fishing Association









Table 3b. Active and Inactive Fishermen’s Associations/Cooperatives in Tobago-2003



Landing Site



Landing Site




South West Tobago Fishermen’s Association (Milford/Pigeon Point)



Black Rock/Plymouth Fishermen’s Association



Parlatuvier Fishermen’s Association



Barbados Bay Fishermen’s Association



Castara Fishermen’s Association



Studley Park Fishermen’s Association



Tobago Fishing Cooperative Society Lt. (Charlotteville)



Pigeon Point Fishermen’s Association



Roxborough Fishermen’s Association



All Tobago Fisherfolk Association



Speyside Fishermen’s Association



Belle Garden Fishermen’s Association










The Inland Fisheries Sub-Sector is very negligible and makes very little, if any, contribution to the socio-economic development of the country. The Sub-Sector consist of a few agricultural farmers and gardeners who may capture wild stocks of tilapia species and cascadura (Haplosternum littorale) in the floodplains on Central Trinidad, in particular, to supplement the protein diet of their families. Very small surpluses may at times be sold on the roadside. The information which is available on this activity is quite sparse. However, development of this sub- sector may be constrained by limited waterways, user conflicts in terms of land use developmental priorities, general environmental degradation as may be evidenced through pollution of the waterways and habitat degradation among other factors.




The Recreational Fishery Sub-Sector is comprised of those individuals who are fully employed outside of the industry but fish on weekends and public holidays primarily for their own recreation. Information and data are difficult to collect and collate since in most cases fishing activities may take place at times and locations could be quite inconvenient to the data collector.




Aquaculture in Trinidad and Tobago, as in other parts of the world, is considered to be one of the avenues to supplementing the declining marine resources in an effort to meet the ever increasing demand for protein through fish and fish products. This should be taken against the background of that coastal marine resources of Trinidad and Tobago, are considered to be either heavily exploited or even over-exploited.


The stated vision for aquaculture is” to promote the development of an Aquaculture Industry that is stainable and market driven in support of food and nutrition security, employment generation and rural development, creation of investment opportunities and foreign exchange.”


Nonetheless, even in light of this vision there are some elements which constrain the development and ultimate success of the industry. Among these are:



Aquaculture is practised at the subsistence and semi-commercial levels, and although it is estimated that approximately fifty-three (53) farmers, information on the total acreage is difficult to estimate.


The available information identifies that there are currently three (3) aquaculture farmers of some significance, with major primary species being the tilapia species Oreochromos nilotica and the red hybrid tilapia. Other food fishes which are cultivated include Oreochromos mossambica, Haplosternum littorale, Hypostomus robinni and Macrobrachium reoenbergii. There are numerous other species, both indigenous and introduced, which have indicated the potential for successful cultivation.


The production of tilapia fingerlings and market size tilapia between 2000 and 2004 by the three aquaculture producers referred to above are estimated at 701 500 fingerlings and 45 000 kg respectively.


The Ornamental/Aquarium Fish Industry


The Ornamental/Aquarium Fish Industry involves an operation in which wild fresh water ornamental species are captured and exported primarily to CARICOM countries including Surinam, Canada, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for use in household aquariums. The species in greatest demand for the export market are Hypostomus robinnii, Corydoras aeneuss, Peocilla reticulata and a miscellaneous assortment of other exotic species. Approximately seven (7) exporters are currently involved in this trade and the export data are shown in Table 4 below. Species of ornamental/aquarium are imported for breeding and re-export but while some of these may be subject to government regulations, others are not. The statistics for the import sector is therefore incomplete.


Table 4. Export of Ornamental/Aquarium Species 2002-2004


Hypostomus robinii


Corydoras aeneus


Peocilla retitculata








Total Export


Total Value US$


373 285

83 500

4 476 760

820 075

704 000

6 457 620

295 275.00


259 000

88 706

4 636 400

224 210

583 000

5 791 316

192 096.00


165 360

56 845

2 862 135

672 431

476 000

4 232 771

185 281.00


797 645

229 051

11 975 295

1 716 716

1 763 000

16 481 707

672 652.00




Fish Utilization


The post harvest utilization of fish is strictly for human consumption since there is no conversion to fish meal and animal feed. In the local domestic market, there is a very high preference for fresh fish among the general population although chilled and frozen products are accepted, especially in time of shortages.


A small quantity of the production may be converted as down steam products as salted, dried or smoked fish. Estimates of production in these areas are not available.


In terms of exports, the emphasis is on chilled and frozen products with minimal value added and there are eighteen (18) fish processing plants throughout Trinidad and Tobago which are engaged in this activity.


Fish Markets


In the local domestic market, fish landed at landing sites around the country are generally purchased by processing plants or wholesalers who may resell to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants of retail vendors. It is estimated that there may be about seventy (70) of these buyers in Trinidad and ten (10) in Tobago.


In general the infrastructure for the handling and marketing of fish at landing sites cannot be classified as well developed since many of the sanitary requirements fall short of the established standards. The age of many of these facilities would account for the existing situation.


There are three (3) major wholesale markets in Trinidad while in Tobago there are four (4) principal purchasing areas although they cannot be classified as markets in the true sense as those in Trinidad.


International trade in fish and fish products out of Trinidad and Tobago comprise mainly the export of shrimp, flying fish, dolphin fish, swordfish, snappers and tunas either frozen or chilled with minimal processing and little value added. All the flying fish is exported out of Tobago in the frozen form. The destinations of these products are CARICOM countries, Canada and the United States of America.


Trinidad and Tobago has not been able to export fish products to the European Union since 1999.

There are eighteen (18) fish processing plants in Trinidad and Tobago with twelve (12) being in Trinidad and six (6) being in Tobago. The 1998 Fish and Fish Products Regulations of the parent legislation the Food and Drug Act, which have been prepared but not yet in place seek to establish standards and guidelines for the handling, processing, preservation, storage and marketing of fish and fish products for both the domestic and international markets. The main source of products for processing is derived from local production but this is supplemented by imports from other CARICOM countries and a foreign owned transhipment company is located in Trinidad.


It is estimated that this sub-sector employs about 1 225 persons with sales valued at around US$ 17 000 million in the local domestic and export markets.



Economic Role of Fisheries in the National Economy


The economy of Trinidad and Tobago is dominated by Governmental Activities and the Energy Sector (oil and natural gas) as noted in 2004, in relation to Gross Domestic Product, Governmental and Associated Activities contributed 30 per cent; Oil and Asphalt including Mining and Refining contributed 20 per cent; Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing contributed 0.9 per cent and Fishing 0.09 per cent.


In terms of employment, agriculture, forestry and fishing, as a sector, contributed 5 per cent to the total labour force in 2003, while fishing contributed 23.65 per cent of the employment in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector and 1.18 per cent of the total labour force.


Food Security


In general, the contribution of fishing to GDP has been declining steadily over the past few years. A similar situation has been observed in the overall agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. Fish production has increased marginally over the past five (5) years while per capita consumption was 14 kg in 2003. In recent years there is an average population growth of approximately 0.5 per cent per annum.

Rural Development


Substantiated information on the economic and social importance of fisheries to rural and coastal communities is lacking. However, it would appear that in many of these communities the members depend either entirely or partially on fishing as a major contribution to their livelihood.


The open access nature of the fishery has resulted in user conflicts with the operation of the semi-industrial and industrial fleets at locations traditionally fished by the artisanal fisherman.


In some communities, especially where operations may be seasonal, fishermen may be employed in subsistence agriculture or government funded development projects.


It is critical that rural development should be under-pinned by an assessment of the economic and social importance of fisheries to these rural communities to allow for the development of appropriate strategic plans.






Open access to the marine resources

Trinidad and Tobago operates an open access fishery for its marine resources. This arrangement means that any local vessel can enter the fishery and catch as much fish as it is capable of doing. There are therefore minimal controls and competition dominates over management and the ultimate result is overfishing and user conflicts among the different categories of fishing vessels in the national fleet.


The implementation of regime to foster sustained management of the fishery and the environment would contribute to the alleviation of some of the major problems associated with an open access fishery.




The available research data, statistics and observation of fish landing trends, which are not complete, indicate that the coastal marine resources are either heavily exploited or in some cases over-exploited. This factor is further complicated by the incidental capture of non target juvenile species especially by the semi-industrial and industrial vessels.


Lack of adequate data


The absence or lack of accurate verifiable data on fisheries tend to compromise the planned strategic approach to the development of fishery. Whereas some information and data can be collected on the coastal inshore artisanal fishery, the semi-industrial and industrial operations and the offshore fishery become more problematic. There are no statutory regulations which require that a vessel declares its catch. This is further compounded by the fact that the 98 landing sites are widely dispersed along the coastlines of both islands there creating logistical problems in the timely collection of information.


The establishment of a comprehensive data collection and analysis system supported by a legal framework requiring that catches be declared would resolve most of the problems in this issue.




Illegal fishing

The issue of illegal fishing by foreign vessels of neighbouring countries in waters under the jurisdiction of Trinidad and Tobago is an on-going problem. These vessels engage in demersal and pelagic longlining and gillnet fishing for flying fish. This activity results in disputed among these states and user conflict with local fishermen.


The conclusion of Fishing and or Cooperative Agreements in the exploitation and management of the marine resources among these countries will contribute to the resolution of problems.


Monitoring and Surveillance


Monitoring and surveillance of the maritime space and boundaries around Trinidad and Tobago is the responsibility of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. However, this has been a challenge over the years in so far as conducting this activity on a sustained basis, a situation which may allow a certain degree of illegal fishing to go undetected.


Integrated coastal planning and development


Fishing is one of the users of the coastline and wider marine environment along with energy- oil and gas sector, tourism, agriculture, human settlements, port development and other infrastructural and physical developments. However, the integrated and collaborative planning approach inclusive of the many may not be the normal practice and often times the fishing element is excluded when activities are undertaken by other interested groups. This often results in negative effects to development in the Fisheries Sector.


An integrated coastal area planning and management approach will reduce the problem.


Landing sites

Although there are 98 identifiable locations where fish is landed, the infrastructural development at these sites vary from a simple jetty to more somewhat elaborate structure with facilities for the storage of fishing gear and equipment, repair of boats and engines, making and storage of ice and wholesale and retail marketing. Facilities of some level exist at 25 landing sites in Trinidad and 9 in Tobago. In general, these sites do not attain the standards for good manufacturing practices for the handling and storage of fish and fish products. They cannot be said to be compliant to the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).


Well planned and developed landing sites with the imperatives for the established sanitary standards and fish handling processes are a necessity along with safe and secure offloading facilities and anchorage for fishing vessels.




The existing Legislation seems inadequate to direct or drive the required sustained development and management of the Fishery if Trinidad and Tobago is to adopt the guidelines of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other related instruments to which it subscribes. The putting in place of the proposed Marine Fisheries Management Act would be a recommended direction. This Act proposes the formation of a Management Advisory Body with fishing industry representation to assist with the preparation of fishery management plans, control access to fish resources through the establishment of a licensing system for both local and foreign fishing vessel, direct relevant research and the establishment of total allowable catch among other elements.


The Fish and Fish Products Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act although existing in draft form is yet to be promulgated. The absence of these regulations has handicapped the implementation of those necessary sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards which are required for the handling and processing of fish for the local domestic and foreign markets.




Development of an offshore fleet


The development of an Offshore Fleet is an area for consideration, given the observations made on the state of the coastal inshore fishery resources and the limitations of fishing location and range of the semi-industrial and industrial fleets. The Offshore Fleet which would be superior in its overall capabilities to the other fleets would target in a more effective manner those migratory pelagics especially in the EEZ, both for local and export markets.


Proposed Marine Fisheries Management Act


The promulgation of the proposed Marine Fisheries Management Act would be a preferred excellent strategic move in any developmental thrust in the fishery of the country.


The fish and fish products regulations


The implementation of these regulations would be a tremendous boost to the development and sustenance of a fish processing sector at all levels.


Regional cooperation in fisheries research and resources management


The continued cooperation in marine research and resources management currently exists with the country being a member of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM) should be pursued.


Bilateral Fisheries or Cooperative Agreements


The conclusion of Bilateral Fisheries or Cooperative Agreements for the exploitation and management of the marine resources would be beneficial to all parties.




The orderly development of aquaculture would contribute and can be one of the strategies that may be adopted to increase fish production.





The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources and the Marine Resources and Fisheries Department of the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment of the Tobago House of Assembly are the agencies with primary responsibility for applied research and information gathering for the development and management of the Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago. This would include research on fish landing statistics in terms of quantity and biological elements such as size, length, weight, stomach content, feeding habits, seasonality and fecundity among other factors.


However, the following institutions are involved in other research which are relevant and do impact on the industry:






This institution which is under the Ministry of Planning and Development and its functions include inter alia:


To develop and implement programmes and projects that translates the marine and related policies of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago into activities that contribute to national development;


To promote the utilization and conservation of the marine resources for the economic and social benefit of Trinidad and Tobago;


To promote a public understanding of, and appreciation for, all aspects of the marine and related environments.


In more specific terms the institutions conducts research and investigations in the areas of water quality and pollution incidents, chemical and oceanographic studies of the aquatic environment and biological studies of aquatic life.




The University offers undergraduate, post graduate degrees and research in Zoology, Biology and Fisheries Science, all of which feed back into the system with graduates obtaining employment at the Fisheries Division, the Division of Marine Resources and Fisheries and the Institute of Marine Affairs. There is the Faculty of Engineering which offers advanced degrees in Food Science in including aspects of Fish Technology.



This institution conducts a wide cross section of research the development of agro- industrial products from raw materials from the agriculture and fisheries sub-sectors. This involves down stream and value added products along with marketing elements of shelf life and packaging. It functions throughout the Caribbean although it is located in Trinidad and Tobago.


The Buccoo Reef Trust which is located in Tobago is a Non-Governmental non-profit

Organization with its primary interest in the preservation and conservation of marine life, reefs and the environment through the promotion of relevant scientific research.


It has strong affiliation with many universities around the world and international bodies in the field on marine preservation. The Trust also promotes and supports an exchange programme among university students around the world in the process of enhancing research and the human resource base in its areas of interest. It also conducts education programmes on matters and issues relating to the marine environment. Target groups include students of primary and secondary schools and the University, community groups, reef operators and the general public.




The Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute (CFTDI) which was established in 1974 and located in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and the Tobago Fisheries Training Center (TFTC) which was commissioned in 2003 and located at Buccoo in Tobago are the institutions which have been designated for the delivery of Applied Fisheries Education and Training by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.


The CFTDI is authorized by the Maritime Services Division of the Ministry of Works and Transport under the Shipping Act of 1987 to conduct training in a limited number of maritime areas. The training courses which are conducted in the area of fisheries include:



The Tobago Fisheries Training Center is in the process of establishing a formal training programme and courses for delivery to the fishing community of Tobago.


The University of the West Indies provides education and training at the academic level in the areas of Biology, Zoology, the Marine Sciences, Aquaculture and Fish Technology.




The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Japan are collaborating on a Technical Cooperation Project for the Promotion of Sustainable Marine Fisheries Resources Utilization. This Project which ends its Second Phase in 2006 encompasses the training of fisheries personnel and officials in fields of Resource Assessment, Fishing Technology, Fish Technology, and Outboard and Inboard Engine Maintenance and Repairs.

This training is also conducted for personnel of the CARICOM Member States.


In addition, through the Counter-parting System, fisheries personnel receive short-term training in institutions in Japan in the fields noted above.




Fisheries Administration


The administration of the Fisheries Sector on the island of Trinidad and that on the island of Tobago falls under different regimes.


In Trinidad, there is the Fisheries Division which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources headed by the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. The Permanent Secretary, who is the Administrative Head of the Ministry reports to the Minister and in turn is responsible for the operations of Fisheries Division which is headed by the Director of Fisheries. The Senior Fisheries Officer who is next in seniority to the Director of Fisheries supervises the Functional Units of the Division, all of which are headed by a Fisheries Officer. These include Marine Research; Aquaculture; Fisheries Extension and Economics, Statistics and Marketing. Administration of the Division is the responsibility of the Director of Fisheries.







Figure 2a. Administrative Structure for the Fisheries Sector in Trinidad

Marine Research









Senior Fish. Officer


Permanent Secretary

Director of Fisheries





Fisheries Extension Unit







Statistics, &

Marketing Unit








On the island of Tobago there is the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries which is under the jurisdiction of the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and Environment of the Tobago House of Assembly. The Division is and headed by the Secretary of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment. The Administrator is responsible to the Secretary for the day to day operations of the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries with the Head of the Department, the Director, reporting to the Administrator. The Fisheries Officer reports to the Director and has responsibility for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Unit and the Marine Unit. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Unit is further divide into the Fisheries Training, Resource Management and Extension and fisheries and Aquaculture Research Sub-Units.


Similar to the situation in Trinidad, the Department is responsible for the sustained development and management of the Fisheries on the island of Tobago.


Figure 2b: Administrative Structure for the Fisheries Sector in Tobago






Director Mar. Resources & Fisheries

Fisheries Officer





Fisheries and Aquaculture





Fisheries Administration





Fisheries & Aquaculture Research Sub-Unit

Resource Management& Extension

Sub -Unit







Fisheries Training





Major Stakeholders in the Fisheries Sector


The major stakeholders in the Fisheries Sector of Trinidad and Tobago are identified as follows:








Web Site

Ministry of Agriculture Land and Marine Resources

Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources

Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment

Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute, Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Institute of Marine Affairs

Buccoo Reef Trust

Caribbean Industrial Research Institute


University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad





The fundamental legislation for management of the national domestic fisheries are as follows:


The Fisheries Act 1916 and its subsequent amendments, the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1966 and the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1975 apply to all rivers, tidal waters and the 12 mile territorial sea and empowers the Minister with responsibility for fisheries to make regulations controlling the fishing gear in terms of mesh size, the species which may be caught and sold, fishing seasons and fishing area.


The Archipelagic Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone Act of 1986 provides for the declaration of archipelagic waters, territorial sea and the establishment of a 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It also provides for the proper conservation and management of the living resources within the EEZ, the determination of the Total Allowable Catch for each fishery in the EEZ and the proportion to be harvested with rested by citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. The Minister with responsibility for Fisheries is authorized to make the necessary regulations including those for surveillance and enforcement.

The Fisheries [Control of Demersal (Bottom) Trawling Activities] (Amendment) Regulation 1998 specifies the zoning regime for the trawl operating in the Gulf of Paria, the North Coast in term of season, time of the day and designated locations.


The Fisheries (Conservation of Marine Turtles) Regulations 1994 specifies that semi-industrial and industrial vessels are required to be equipped with Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). Amendment to the regulations in 1998, provide detailed specification of the TEDs and their method of installation.


The Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Act 1973 provides the regulations relevant to the management of marine restricted areas such as the Buccoo Reef and adjacent areas.


A new and updated Marine Fisheries Management Act which will repeal the Fisheries Act of 1916 and sections of the Archipelagic Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone Act is under active consideration by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.


The Fish and Fish Products Regulations 2003 of the Food and Drug Act which set sanitary and phyt- sanitary standards in the Fisheries Sector in relation to the handling, processing, preservation and marketing of all fish and fish products. These guidelines also include fishing vessels and their operations on board while at sea.