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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2018)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared:September, 2018.

Aruba is part of the island chain of the Leeward Netherland Antilles, in the southern Caribbean Sea, which also includes the islands of Bonaire and Curaçao. The islands of the Netherland Antilles were all governed by the Central Government of the Netherland Antilles, but Aruba separated from the rest of the Netherland Antilles in 1986. However, its government has remained tied to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Fishing is not a primary industry in Aruba. However, since Aruba has a thriving marine-based tourism industry (based on scuba diving and game fishing), it holds an interest in maintaining the biodiversity of both the pelagic ecosystem and the coral reefs surrounding the island. Indeed, as Aruba is located on the northern fringe of the South American Continental shelf, demersal and reef-associated fish such as snappers and groupers are of greater importance than in other parts of the Lesser Antilles. Due to the presence of large oil refineries, and their need for man power, fisheries have regularly experienced labour shortages. In 2016, 622 vessels were reported in Aruba. The majority of these vessels, all powered, are multipurpose vessels (560, of which 260 LOA 6-11.9m, and 300 up to 5.9m), while the other vessels are long liners (56, of which 6 up to 18m, and 50 smaller than 12m), and seiners (6, all smaller than 6m).In the past 10 years, there has been a steady increase in fisheries employment in Aruba, from 954 people in 2003, to 1661 in 2013. The majority of people are employed in marine coastal fishing (1617), and 2.5% of the workforce is female. Deep-sea fisheries employ 44 people, an increase of more than 50% compared to 2010. Aruba’s fisheries are small scale and recreational, and total catch has been steady in recent years at approximately 140 tonnes a year, wahoo, snappers and groupers being the main species targeted.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data – Aruba

Shelf area 1,503 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org
Length of continental coastline 68.5 Km http://world.bymap.org/Coastlines.html
Fisheries GDP (year) USD  

Key statistics

Country area180km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area180km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area0km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.11millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2019

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2018. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent statistics.

Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Aruba

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2015 2016 2017
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 0.36 0.41 0.88 1.11
  Aquaculture 0.01 0.00
  Capture 0.36 0.41 0.88 1.11
    Marine 0.36 0.41 0.88 1.11
FLEET(thousands boats) 0.12 0.12 0.62 0.62
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up

Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.


Updated 2018Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sector

Aruba is a small island, 33 km long located in the southern Caribbean Sea, 27  km north of the coast of Venezuela at 12° 30’ N and 69° 58’ W. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group of islands (the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles) in the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Antilles have been commonly referred to as the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Antilles. Although still a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba obtained full autonomy in internal affairs in 1986, upon separation from the Netherland Antilles. The Dutch Government however, still maintains responsibility for defense and foreign affairs.

The commercial fisheries of Aruba are essentially artisanal in character, with the fishers using small-scale gear, operating near the coast, and selling the bulk of their catch in fresh form without any processing.Marine sub-sectorCatch profileAs Aruba is located on the northern fringe of the South American Continental shelf and has extensive shallow water areas, demersal and reef-associated fish such as snappers and groupers are of greater importance than in other parts of the Lesser Antilles. However, total catch is very small, with about 140 tonnes per year.

Aruba’s fisheries are mainly small-scale and recreational, i.e. there are no commercial fisheries, as these have been prohibited under policy since 1990. Both fisheries are confined to the territorial waters of Aruba. The major small-scale fisheries target wahoo, grouper and snapper using handlines (with a move towards electric or hydraulic reels) and small wooden or fibreglass pirogues (16 to 30 ft) with outboard gasoline engines. At present, the three most important small-scale fisheries are: the wahoo fishery, harvesting about 48 tonnes annually; the grouper fishery harvesting about 15 tonnes annually, and the snapper fishery, harvesting about 45 tonnes yearly. These are also among the top-value fisheries. The harvest levels decreased significantly between ten and five years ago, after which the snapper fishery harvests increased again recently. The trends in value mirror the harvest level trends.

Landing sitesThe landing sites are on the protect South West Coast, with Savaneta as the main fishing village.

Fishing practices/systems

The fishing practice is mainly troll line fisheries.
Main resourcesWahoo is one of the main small scale fisheries resources followed by snappers and groupers. There is currently overfishing in all three major small-scale fisheries identified. This is supported by the fact that a constant or decreasing CPUE has been observed in these fisheries.

Management applied to main fisheriesThat noted, fishing permits are issued only if it is established that existence of the fishery itself and the natural development of the fish population in question are not threatened. This implies a priority for knowledge of resource status and fishing operations. The management objectives noted in the legislation are also incorporated into fisheries management plans.

The fisheries legislation is designed as a framework that shapes fisheries management and management plans, i.e. it provides specific guidance on management approaches and tools. The legislation also sets up a series of steps or a process for developing, organizing and implementing fishery management regulations and fishery management plans. The legislation also requires management decisions to be based on information coming from: biological analyses, economic analyses, environmental analyses, and monitoring and enforcement options. Specific management measures and regulations for individual fisheries are included, e.g. it makes provisions for a permit system with possibilities to regulate species fished, fishing seasons, sizes harvested, fishing method, catch quotas, etc.. That noted, the legislation does not prescribe steps for setting up the management process itself, nor make provisions for the management process to be completed in a given timeframe.

Management objectivesThe main management objective is to protect the natural development of the fish population.

Management measures and institutional arrangementsFisheries management activities at the regional/international level are carried out under the supervision of the Dutch Government. Issues are therefore handled through Aruba’s office of foreign affairs and Dutch representatives.

There is no separate fisheries science agency or institution to share the scientific responsibilities of management. However, a separate fisheries enforcement agency/authority, the Coastguard of the Dutch Caribbean Region and Police, is responsible for all fisheries enforcement matters concerning Aruba’s fishing operations.

Inland sub-sector

As only very limited fresh water resources are available on the island, no inland fisheries exists.

Aquaculture sub-sectorDespite some interest expressed in the past by the Aruban government to develop aquaculture, no such activities are ongoing at the moment.

Recreational sub-sectorAruba is an important area for sports fishing. The main species taken are wahoo, dolphinfish and barracuda. Total catch by the recreational sector exceeds the one of the commercial fisheries, r, the three major fisheries which are important are the wahoo fishery, harvesting about 15 tonnes annually, the dolphinfish fishery, harvesting about 10 tonnes per year, and; a 15 tonnes/year barracuda fishery.

The recreational fishery targets wahoo, using various sized fibreglass and wooden boats, ranging from 16 to over 29ft, and handlines, rod and reel gear, aided by electric and hydraulic winches. Recreational catches are generally not marketed, but donated to charity. Some catch sales do occur at the landing sites, and some recreational fishers have contacts with local restaurants and hotels to deliver incidental catch.

No overfishing is believed to exist in the recreational fisheries, despite the fact that a constant or decreasing Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) has also been observed in the major fisheries.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationFish is sold fresh at the landings sites. Imported products are mainly sold at the supermarkets, mainly in frozen and canned form. The imported products such as pangasius and shrimp are going straight to the hotel and restaurant sector.

Fish marketsThe fish market is mainly supplied by imported fish products. Frozen products, such as shrimp, salmon and pangasius are mainly going to the Hotel, Restaurant, Catering (HORECA) sector, while the domestic market is supplied by various canned fish products such as tuna and sardines.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyFishing is not a primary industry in Aruba, as it contributes to less than 1% of its Gross Domestic Product. However, since Aruba has a thriving marine-based tourism industry (based on scuba diving and game fishing), it holds an interest in maintaining the biodiversity of both the pelagic ecosystem and the coral reefs surrounding the island. However, in the case of the recreational fishery, the fishery provides the sole source of income for 25 percent of the vessel owners in all three fisheries identified. This is presumably linked to the fact that the recreational subsector is providing a service for the tourism industry. The recreational fishery, however, also provides an important source of food for the participants.

TradeImports are high, at more than 2 400 tonnes per year. The main species imported are frozen shrimp, frozen salmon and pangasius fillets. These products are mainly going into the hotel sector, for the tourists’ consumption.

Food securityAruba imports a large fraction of the seafood that its inhabitants and visiting tourists consume.


Fisheries activity is not important for the employment in the country.
Rural development

Apart from the main fishing village, Savaneta, fisheries does not play any role in rural development.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesOverfishing is a problem in the country. The low standing of the fisheries sector in the government policy does not help to control the fisheries and improve the resource situation. The dialogue between the government agency and the fishers exist, which could be used further to improve the joint management of the resource and lead to a change in mentality.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesFisheries nor aquaculture are mentioned in the government development plans.

Research, education and trainingResearchThere are no major research project ongoing in the country.

Institutional frameworkFisheries are handled by the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Market Place (DLVV), under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Primary Sector. DLVV has to ensure the conservation and management of the natural environment, both at sea and on land. Other tasks are conducting research, executing projects, providing information and collecting data on the primary sector, nature and environment.

Legal frameworkAruba, even before separating in 1986, was insistent on having its own fisheries regulations, but the Aruban fisheries agency, i.e., the Fisheries Section in the Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries is very similar in structure to its counterparts in the Netherlands Antilles.

There is specific legislation that makes provisions for marine capture fisheries management activities at the national level, the regional/international level, (i.e. to facilitate fulfillment of member-country obligations to regional/international agreements/conventions) and the local level. In particular, there are three instruments of legislation that relate to fisheries management: the 1992 LV Visserijverordening (AB 1992 no. 116), which is the Fisheries Ordinance; the 1992 LB Sleepnetten (1992 no. GT 17), that addresses prohibition of trawling nets; and the 1993 LBHAM visserijbesluit (1993 no.15). Fisheries management is not defined in the legislation. However, the legislation provides both legal and administrative frameworks for governing the management process at the national, regional/international and local levels. The legislation also identifies a single authority for marine capture fisheries management at all levels.

Regional and international legal frameworkAruba is part of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), but has not subscribed to any other international instruments.



CPUE Catch per Unit Effort
DLVV Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Market Place
HORECA Hotel, Restaurant, Catering
WECAFC Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission
ReferencesBibliographic EntryLindop A. et al (2015) Reconstructing the Former Netherlands Antilles Marine Catches from 1950 to 2010, The Sea around Us

Bibliographic Entry Pauly D. et al (2015) Reconstruction of total marine catches for Aruba, southern Caribbean, 1950-2010, the sea around us

Bibliographic Entry Singh-Renton, S. & McIvor I. (2015) Review of current fisheries management performance and conservation measures in the WECAFC area. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 587, Bridgetown, Barbados, FAO. 293 pp.

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