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

The Profile (2005)

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    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 briefUpdated 12-2016

    In spite of a relatively short coastline, of about 386 km, Belize borders a marine environment of great significance in terms of living resources and biodiversity: off the shores of the country lies one of the largest coral reef barriers or the world. The fisheries sector plays an important role in the Belize national economy, accounting for 3 percent of national GDP in 2015.

    Capture fisheries production in coastal waters mainly concentrates on two valuable resources: lobster and queen conch. The Lobster annual production is quite stable with an average of about 650 tonnes per year in the 2008-14 period. However the production of conch which has shown stable until 2013 around 3 000 tonnes, in 2014 has dropped sharply to 2 000 tonnes. The total production in coastal waters was in 2014 around 4 000 tonnes.

    Belize is an “open registry” State, with a number of non-locally owned fishing vessels flying its flag. Currently, Belize reported 60 vessels being authorized to operate in the high seas under the 1995 FAO Compliance Agreement. Information on catches by vessels registered in Belize but operating in offshore waters is available only from sources external to the country. Tuna catches from these vessels have been around an average of 4 000 tonnes per year since 2003 but increased up to 24 000 tonnes in 2012 and then decreased to 21 000 tonnes in 2014. Whereas those of other species, mainly small pelagics from Eastern Central Atlantic, peaked in 2010 at around 400 000 tonnes but decreased in 2014 to around 71 000 tonnes.

    Aquaculture has been on a bumpy road of development in Belize and the total production in 2014 was 7 211 tonnes, just over a half of the highest production of 11 400 tonnes in 2004. The production is now largely dominated by marine shrimp farming with both investment and market outside of the country. Family-scale tilapia farming currently produces less than 100 tonnes all together annually. Foreign invested large-scale tilapia farming in 2004 and marine cage culture of cobia in 2008 ceased to operate in 2011.

    Exports of fish and fishery products were USD 44.6 million in 2014 and in the same year, imports were small and valued at a mere USD 0.9 million. Domestic fish consumption, estimated at 13.8 kg per capita in 2013, is mainly covered by domestic production.

    In 2013, the fisheries industry employed 2 946 full-time and part-time fishers and the fishing fleet counted with 560 vessels.

    The Belize fishing industry has been successful because of its ability to adapt to both local and global changes. Some of the most pressing new challenges are:

    • The increasing pressure on fishery resources derived from the new entrance of fishers caused by the lack of educational opportunities for youngsters and the crisis of the sugar industry.
    • The uncertain prospects of the fish farming industry given its reliance on fluctuating world market prices, especially for shrimp.
    • The effects of climate change will impact on fisheries and the country’s vulnerability to storms and hurricanes is likely to increase, with impacts on the capture fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Policies and practices in preparedness and disaster risk management and reduction are becoming increasingly important.

    Belize has prepared a National Strategy and Action Plan for the development of freshwater aquaculture in Belize, with emphasis on tilapia farming.

    Since August 1983, Belize is a Party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and has become Party to the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement as well as to the 1995 Compliance Agreement in July 2005.
    General geographic and economic indicators

    Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Belize

    Shelf area 9 800 km2
    Length of continental coastline 386 km http://world.bymap.org/Coastlines.html

    Fisheries GVA (2014)

    BZD 102.7 million

    USD 51.4 million *

    Statistical Institute of Belize: http://www.sib.org.bz/
    * Calculated with UN Operational Rate

    Key statistics

    Country area22 970km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
    Land area22 810km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
    Inland water area160km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
    Population - Est. & Proj.0.364millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
    Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area34 426km2VLIZ
    GDP (current US$)1 838millionsWorld Bank. 2017
    GDP per capita (current US$)4 906US$World Bank. 2017
    Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added10.85% of GDPWorld Bank. 2017

    Source: FAO Country Profile

    FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and disseminated in 2016. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent disseminated statistics.

    Table 2 – Employment and Fleet Statistics - Belize

          1980 1990 2000 2010 2012 2013 2014
    EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 1.06 1.75 2.80 2.47 2.76 2.50 2.43
      Aquaculture ... ... 0.93 ... ... ... ...
      Capture 1.06 1.75 1.87 2.47 2.76 2.50 2.43
        Marine 1.06 1.75 1.87 2.47 2.76 2.50 2.43
    FLEET(thousands vessels) 0.80 0.87 ... 0.70 0.72 0.56 ...
    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 2005The Profile

    This country profile provides statistics and indicators produced through FAO’s Statistics programmes, supplemented with information derived from national and other sources and valid at the time of compilation.

    Full text of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Country Profile available at /fishery/docs/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_BZ.pdf

    Additional information

    Meetings & News archive


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