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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 (2016)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • 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
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. 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 briefUpdated: 12-2016

Barbados is located at latitude 130 10’ N and longitude 590 35’ W, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The total land area is 432 km2 with a coastline of 95 km. The island has a small continental shelf of 320 km2. Barbados is less than 200 nautical miles from neighbouring islands in the North, West, and South. However it claims the full extent of the EEZ to the east, which covers 177 346 km2. The island has an estimated population of 284 000 people (2015).

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management of Barbados has primary responsibility for fisheries mainly through the Fisheries Division and Markets Division. Its mandate is to ensure the optimum utilization of the fisheries resources. The Fisheries are governed by the Fisheries Act (1993, amended 2000) and Fisheries Management Regulations (1998).

Total capture production fluctuated heavily in recent years with the invasions of sargassum seaweeds that has substantial impacts on flying fish catch. The latest available statistics show a production of 1 373 tonnes in 2012 and about 3 000 tonnes in 2013 and 2014. Apart from a small number of farmers growing tilapia and crayfish in backyard ponds and tanks as a hobby for self-consumption, there has been no commercial aquaculture operation until 2010. A commercial tilapia farm was built with initial production of 3 tonnes per month in 2011. Total farmed fish production in Barbados is estimated at around 20 tonnes in 2014. The slow development in aquaculture is mainly due to the high cost of land, the high investment costs of marine aquaculture installations and the fact that traditional fisheries have been developing more towards offshore fisheries in the last decades.

Barbados is a net importer of fish for domestic fish consumption, estimated at 40.1 kg per capita in 2013. In 2015, the country imported fish and fishery products for a total value of USD 25.8 million.

There are around 3000 active fishers in Barbados in 2015. Fish is landed at some 13 major landing sites all around the island. The fishing fleet comprises small open boats propelled by oars and outboard engines that fish for reef and coastal fishes to decked vessels which fish for tunas and swordfish on voyages lasting up to 14 days. There are also traditional vessels powered by inboard engines that fish for flying fish and large pelagic species, which land their fish on a daily basis. Over the last years, this segment has evolved into larger fishing vessels remaining at sea between 5 to 10 days. In 2010, 1 073 powered fishing vessels were reported of which 90 percent were less than 12 m.

The Barbados Fisheries Management Plan foresees training of fishers and fisher folk organizations to enable them to play an active role in fisheries management and quality assurance. The vision includes promotion of responsible fishing practices and implementation of agreed national, regional and international fisheries management measures; continued development of modern and appropriate infrastructure and production and marketing of quality value-added seafood products.

Hurricanes and tropical revolving storms continue to be a major threat to the fisheries sector.

Barbados has signed and is party to a number of conventions which include Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands. However the country has not ratified these as yet. Barbados has ratified the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement, and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. It has not ratified yet the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement, however, there is clear interest to do so. A cabinet sub-committee has met and supports ratification and FAO has prepared in support of the process a cost-benefit analysis and provided draft legislation.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Barbados

Shelf area 342 km2 Sea around us: http://www.seaaroundus.org/
Length of coastline 97 km World by Map: http://world.bymap.org/Coastlines.html
Fisheries GVA (2012) 0.1% National GDP

Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM): Statistics and Information Report 2012

Key statistics

Country area430km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area430km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area0km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.278millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area185 704km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2016.

Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Barbados

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2012 2013 2014
PRODUCTION (thousand tonnes) 3.7 3.0 3.2 3.3 1.4 3.0 3.0
    Marine 3.7 3.0 3.2 3.3 1.4 3.0 3.0
    Marine .…
  Capture 3.7 3.0 3.2 3.3 1.4 3.0 3.0
    Marine 3.7 3.0 3.2 3.3 1.4 3.0 3.0
TRADE (USD million)              
  Import 3.0 6.3 10.9 18.0 25.9 22.3
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.01 3.01
  Capture 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.01 3.01
    Marine 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.01 3.01
FLEET(thousands boats) 1.07
  Fish food supply (thousand tonnes in live weight equivalent) 6.8 7.3 10.0 11.0 11.1 11.4  
  Per Capita Supply (kilograms) 27.1 28.3 37.3 39.3 39.2 40.1  
  Fish Proteins (grams per capita per day) 8.7 9.1 11.4 11.8 11.4 12.0  
  Fish/Animal Proteins (%) 18.2 15.3 24.5 23.5 23.0 23.8  
  Fish/Total Proteins (%) 10.5 9.5 14.1 13.6 13.1 13.6  
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Excluding aquatic plants
2) 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 2016Part 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

The local fishing industry is characterized as one that is open access, with finite resources and of a multi – species and multi -gear nature. Local fisheries are important in that they contribute to food and nutrition security, small business activities and to gross domestic product. The contribution of fishing to the Barbados GDP is currently undervalued and is usually cited as ranging between $12 mil to $16 mil per annum, based on the ex-vessel and retail prices collected at the major markets, which is an approximate contribution to GDP of 0.1%. The vast majority of fish production in Barbados originates from marine fisheries, with landings ranging from 1.4 (thousand tonnes) to 3.2 (thousand tonnes) over the period 2000 – 2013. It is also the most economically important with an export value ranging from 1.3 USD million in 2000 to 0.5 USD million in 2012. In 2014, an estimated total of 2,153 tonnes of fish was landed in Barbados, representing a 26.2% decline from the estimated total landings of 2,919 tonnes in 2013. Capture production only occurs in marine waters. Data from the commercial and recreational sectors are not being clearly distinguished. Production from inland aquaculture has been recorded since 2006 with a production of 0.002 (thousand tonnes) in 2006, increasing to 0.01 (thousand tonnes) in 2013. There are no reports of marine aquaculture production. Barbadians consume 5 000 to 6 000 tonnes of fish annually, of which 3 000 tonnes are landed by Barbadian vessels and the remaining amount (almost half) is imported. The industry provides work for 6 000 persons either as fishers, fish retailers and/or fish processors.

Marine sub-sector

Catch profile

Barbados has a small shelf area of 320 km2 that supports a multi-fleet, multi-species fishery primarily for oceanic pelagics, the dominant fishery. Fishing areas range from inshore coral reef to international waters with Barbados having a maximum exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles and a territorial water boundary of 12 nautical miles.

The local marine fishing industry comprises of six main fisheries: shallow shelf reef, deep slope, coastal pelagic, large pelagic, flying fish and sea urchins. Lobsters and conchs are of minimal importance and the sea turtle fishery is closed. The sea urchin (sea egg) fishery operates under a semi - permanent closed season. For example, it was, opened for the month of October 2015, the first time the fishery was opened since 2005. With the exception of the sea turtle fishery which has a moratorium on harvest since 1998, all of the local marine capture fisheries are currently of a partial open access nature. However, the requirement fishers and fishing vessels are to be registered with the Fisheries Division and from 2015, a special fishing license was required to participate in the sea egg fishery.

In 2012, exports of fish and fish products were valued at USD 0.5 million (133 metric tonnes), primarily yellow –fin tuna and imports at USD 25.7 million USD (6086 metric tonnes). (Masters, 2014).

In 2013, the total marine capture production was estimated at almost 3000 metric tonnes with miscellaneous pelagic fish making up the majority of catch (81%) followed by tunas, bonitos and billfishes (11%). In the same year, the four-winged flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis) was the most important species comprising approximately 64% of the total annual landings with the second most important species being the dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) comprising 17% of the total annual landings. Over the past 5 year period, there have been fluctuations in the catch and landings of flying fish with 2012 having the lowest capture production of 459metric tonnes, believed to be associated with the massive influx of pelagic sargassum into the region during the same year.

In 2015 reported flying fish catches by fishers were again very low due to another mass incursion of sargassum into the region however still remained the major contributor to the island’s fish catch. Similar to 2013, flying fish accounted for just over 60% of the total fish catch, while dolphin was the second largest contributor with 13% (vs 17% in the previous year). The estimated total annual landings for all marine fisheries production for the past 20 years have fluctuated between 1,000 and 5,000 tonnes. In the same period, the number of long liners and fiberglass iceboats has increased. Changes in vessel design have also increased fishing capacity resulting in higher catches of pelagic species, which are targeted primarily for export. The increase in the number and capabilities of these vessels, has made fishing slightly less seasonal. However, clear seasons still exist for flying fish and there are off – season shortages of all locally caught pelagic species such as dolphinfish.

Main fisheries in Barbados

The main fisheries in Barbados may be defined as shallow-shelf reef; bank-reef and deep slope; coastal pelagics, flying fish; large pelagics, sea eggs; lobsters; conch and sea turtles. The stock status ranges from under exploited to overfished. Many catches of the demersal and shellfish species are not reported and thus it is believed that official statistics underestimate their catch levels.

The shallow-shelf reef fishery occurs on nearshore coral reefs and targets hinds (Serranidae); parrotfishes (Scaridae), grunts (Haemulidae); surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) and triggerfishes (Balistidae). For the period 2003 - 2013, estimated annual landings of reef fish varied between 7 and 16 metric tonnes.

Small, open, outboard powered boats such as the moses are primarily used in the shallow-shelf reef fishery. Fishing methods include pot (trap) fishing, handlines and spear fishing, the latter two conducted from either boats or from shore. Fishing is most intense when pelagics are scarce annually between July and October but some of the reef fisheries are conducted year-round. Fishermen have reported reduced catch per unit effort and fish size on the south and west coasts of the island.

In 2013, the estimate of annual yield from the spear fishery was 152 metric tonnes (Simpson et al., 2014), which was significantly higher than the official landings records for the entire reef fishery (approx. 60 metric tonnes). These findings support those of Staskiewicz et al. (2008) and Maraj et al. (2011), that the official records are grossly under-estimating the yield and hence value and impact of fishing on Barbados’ reefs. In 2014, catches of pot – fish (including parrotfish, grunts) reportedly increased by 18.8% (76 tonnes).

The deep-slope and bank reef fishery mainly targets snappers (Lutjanidae) primarily the queen snapper (Etelis oculatus), silk snapper (Lutjanus vivanus) and vermillion snapper(Rhomboplites aurorubens).

The primary vessel type used is the day boat which mainly uses handlines to target the queen and vermilion snappers and traps to target silk and some vermilion snapper. Much of this fishing occurs from July to October when large pelagics are scarce.

The coastal pelagic fishery mainly targets jacks (Carangidae), herrings (Clupeidae), silversides (Atherinidae), anchovies (Engraulidae), ballyhoo (Hemiramphus spp.), robins or scads (Decapterus spp.), barracuda (Sphynaena spp.), garfish and small tunas. These species are used mainly as bait for other fisheries, although some may be used as food. The stock status of this fishery has not been assessed. Annual estimated catches of jacks and small tunas during the period 2004 to 2013 ranged from approximately 6 to 28 tonnes. Catches of Carangids increased by a substantial 77.8% in 2014 to 16 tonnes.

Moses and day boats are mainly used in the coastal pelagic fishery. They employ boat seines and cast nets (mainly on the south and west coasts). There are concerns that use of seine nets on living reefs risk physically damage reefs and have overall negative impacts on reef communities. Means to control this practice are currently being explored.

The annual estimated landings of large pelagics between 2004 and 2013 ranged from 740 to 1200 tonnes. Fishing effort directed at the large pelagics has increased due to an increase in the number of iceboats and the growth of the longline fleet in numbers. Most of the target species of this fishery – tunas (Scombroidei), Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), billfishes (Istiophoridae), dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and mackerels (Scombermorous spp.) are highly migratory.

Barbados is a contracting party to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) which reports many large tuna species as being fully exploited or overexploited, but the status of most other tuna-like species in the western Atlantic and Caribbean is uncertain.

Longliners and iceboats are the main vessels used to target large pelagics. Day boats and ice boats are used to harvest dolphin and wahoo, either by trolling or lurk lining but take other large pelagic species occasionally. There are approximately 35 sport fishing vessels, the majority of which are charter vessels targeting large pelagics.

Among the large pelagics, catches of dolphinfish decreased substantially by 45% to 278 tonnes in 2014. This was also the lowest observed value in terms of volume of landings for the species over the past twenty – five years. The suspected increase in number of juveniles in the catch is of concern and may be partially explained by the increase in sargassum, in which the juveniles hide and are thus being taken.

Sharks and rays (Elasmobranchs)

Sharks and rays are mainly caught by the longline fishery as incidental catch, with a small directed fishery occurring in July – October when pelagics are scarce. Many longliners target tunas with billfish and shark bycatch. The reported capture production of elasmobranchs in 2013 was 10mt but it is believed that the figure is higher than this.

Flying fish fishery

The most important fishery for Barbados is the flying fish fishery. The four-winged flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis) comprises more than 90% of the flying fish catch and flying fish account for almost two-thirds of total landings in most years. The fishing effort directed at flying fish increased through the 1980s but in recent years has leveled off due to a slowing in fleet expansion and conversion of some iceboats to longliners. The fishery is economically important with over 2000 fishermen and 500 vendors seasonally employed in the fishery. In addition, over 200 persons are employed as scalers or boners at fish markets and approximately 125 are employed at fish processing plants, of which flying fish account for a large percentage of the production of these plants. It is believed that over 6000 people (2000 directly and 4000 indirectly) are involved in this fishery.

An estimated 410 boats are in the fishery consisting of day boats and iceboats. The method employed to catch flying fish is the use of surface gillnets, handlines and dipnets after often being lured near the boat with fish attracting devices such as screelers and chum. The fishing season is from November to July. Total flying fish landings amounted to 1,314 tonnes in 2014, representing a 31.2% decrease from the previous year. Flying fish landings fluctuated greatly from a high of 2,424 tonnes in 2010 to a record low of 354 tonnes in 2012 which may be explained by the sargassum influx.

Sea urchin (sea egg) fishery

In Barbados the well-established and economically important sea egg fishery has existed for more than a century. The species targeted is the White Sea urchin (Tripneustes ventricosus). High demand has led to overexploitation of this resource. For the majority of the period between the mid-1980s to 2000, the stock was considered to be in a collapsed state. During this period two multi-year harvesting moratoria were enforced (1987-1989 and 1998-2001) to allow the depleted stock to recover. Sea eggs returned in abundance in 2001 and stock levels remained relatively high in 2002 but with some decline in 2003 and further decline in 2004. It was decided that the stock size was large enough to support opening of the fishery for a period of one month in 2015. The season was opened for the month of October 2015 where a license was required to harvest sea eggs without the use of SCUBA and to be returned at the end of the month. There were over 600 registered persons, with approximately half of these being divers who had a license to harvest sea urchins with no limit on the quantity of licenses.

Sea eggs are mainly harvested using moses and launches (day boats) but some divers go from shore and collect sea eggs in a net bag.

Lobster fishery

The lobster fishery is a minor one in Barbados with the potential for increased importance through links to tourism. Currently, there is no data collection and therefore no catch and effort data available but anecdotal information suggests that recently there has been a possible increase in abundance. The primary methods and gear used to harvest lobsters are the use of free or scuba diving using spears or gloves for capture.

Conchs are now mainly harvested for their shells which are polished and sold as souvenirsto tourists. The principal species targeted is the queen conch (Strombus gigas). As with thelobster fishery, no data has been collected for this fishery. The status of conchs in Barbadosis unknown however anecdotal information suggests that local conch populations aretypically much smaller than those in neighboring islands. In order to harvest conch, individuals make use of moses and day boats but are mainly harvested by skin (free) divers often from shore and by SCUBA divers.

The Queen Conch is listed under Appendix II on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meaning that it is protected from international trade and that a permit is required in order to be traded.

Sea Turtles

The main species found in Barbados are the hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles. Barbados is party to CITES requiring commercial trade in turtles and turtle products to be restricted or prohibited under Appendix I. Under the present Fisheries (Management) Regulations:   It is illegal to possess, sell, expose for sale or purchase any turtle or part or turtle eggs.  Fishing for or ensnaring turtles is prohibited and it is illegal to disturb or endanger any turtle nest or remove from a nest any turtle eggs. As of 1998, the Government of Barbados enacted a total moratorium on all sea turtle harvesting. It is illegal to catch any species of sea turtle, or possess any turtle product (i.e. meat, shell, eggs) in Barbados. Penalties include fines up to $50,000 Barbados dollars and/or two years in jail.


The invasion of the red lionfish, Pterois volitans into Barbadian waters was first recorded in November 2011. Control efforts at promoting the fish as food, encouraging a lionfish fishery along with culling are ongoing since the invasion.

Landing sitesThere are approximately 30 fish landing sites around the island, categorized according totype of physical infrastructure and facilities as primary (markets), secondary (sheds) andtertiary (beaches). The majority of catches are landed at the primary sites and are oftensold directly to consumers or fish vendors, the latter of which are predominantly women.The primary fish landing sites are at Bridgetown, Oistins, Skeete’s Bay, Consett Bay,Paynes Bay, Weston and Speightstown.

In 2014, the largest proportions of the island’s fish catches were landed at the Bridgetown Fishing Complex (64%), followed by the Berinda Cox Fishing Complex (16%) in 2014.

In past years, new fishing facilities such as those at Tent Bay, St. Joseph and Payne’s Bay, St. James have been constructed. The construction of the markets was in keeping with the Government’s policy of providing improved vending facilities for rural small business persons, while making a range of fish and agricultural products more easily accessible to a wide cross-section of the rural population.

Also during this period, rehabilitation work was undertaken on the Oistin’s Visitors Jetty at a cost of BDS$ 1.6 million. The work included the reconstruction of the lower berthing platform and fendering system to facilitate the use of the jetty for loading and unloading fuel, ice and fish. Deck slabs and the concrete structure were also repaired.

Fishing practices/systemsIn 2014, the composition of the local registered fishing fleet saw a small increase in the number of long – liners to 41, and a reduction in the number of moses (588), day – boats (230), and iceboats (175) with a total of 1,034 consisting the island’s fishing fleet. Approximately half of these were inspected and passed in the same year and thus were active (Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs, 2014).

Typically fishing vessels are classified locally according to length and type. Vesselsare divided into three classes based on length – class 1 (< 6m); class 2 (> 6m but < 12m)and class 3 (>12m). Within each length class, vessels are further classified according totype based on their physical structure or the type of gear carried. As such, four differenttypes of vessel are recognized in the fishing industry - moses, dayboats/launches, iceboatsand longliners (FMP, 2004).

The smallest of these vessels is the moses (dinghies) which are open boats 3-6m long,constructed of either wood or glass reinforced plastic powered either by oars or 10-40hpoutboard engines. These are used used primarily in the reef and coastal fisheries. Gear and techniques commonly associated with these boats includes hand and trolling lines, fish traps and cast nets although a number of moses are used as tenders for the larger vessels.

Dayboats or launches are mostly decked wooden boats, 6-12m in length, propelled byinboard diesel engines of 10–180hp , which carry one to two fishers and land their catchdaily since they carry no ice while at sea. Dayboats, which normally range up to 30 miles from shore are used primarily for harvesting flying fish and large pelagics on day trips. Dayboats are normally equipped with navigation, communication and safety equipment and commonly use hand and trolling lines, gill nets and hoop nets as gear (FMP, 2004).

Iceboats are similar to dayboats except for size. Iceboats are normally greater than 12m inlength, outfitted with insulated ice holds facilitating multi-day trips (5-10 days), powered by180–200hp inboard diesel engines and equipped with navigation, communication and safetyequipment. These boats usually target the same species as dayboats using the same gear.Iceboats in the industry have a range of up to 200 miles from shore.

The longliner fleet consists of boats greater than 12m in length (12 to 24m). Longliners are outfitted in a similar fashion to the iceboats but are used primarily for fishing tuna and swordfish for export, with a bycatch of large pelagics such as shark and billfish sold locally. These boats, with a crew of 4 or 5, remain at sea from 12-28 days and may range more than 400 miles offshore. Pelagic longline gear is mainly used but some longliners may also carry gear specific to iceboats. These vessels are equipped with navigation, communication and safety equipment (FMP, 2004).

Main resourcesThe principal stocks and resources exploited by marine capture fisheries in Barbados are the flying fish and large pelagic stocks.

The most important fishery for Barbados is the flying fish fishery which accounts for almost two-thirds of total landings in most years. The fishery is economically important with over 2000 fishermen and 500 vendors seasonally employed in the fishery. In addition, over 200 persons are employed as scalers or boners at fish markets and approximately 125 are employed at fish processing plants. Flying fish account for a large percentage of the production of the processing plants.

Flying fish are caught using surface gillnets, handlines and dipnets. Flying fish are lured near the boat with fish attracting devices such as screelers and chum. The season for flying fish is November to July.

The large pelagic fishery targets highly migratory tunas (Scombroidei), wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), billfishes (Istiophoridae), dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and mackerels (Scombermorous spp.). The annual estimated landings of large pelagics between 2004 and 2013 were in the range of 740 and 1200 tonnes. Of these the dolphinfish has the greatest production whereas the tunas are the most economically valuable in the context of unit weight.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe Fisheries Act (Cap 391) provides the legal authority for management and development of fisheries in Barbados and for the administration of the Fisheries Act including the Fisheries Management Plan.

Technical measures

Technical measures such as a closed season are used for the sea urchin fishery. A closed area, which includes the Folkestone Marine Park, is also employed. Mesh size control are also used and are set at 3.18 cms for traps and 3.25 cms for seine nets.

Economic incentives

The Government through the Fisheries Division offers the following incentives and services: • Tax and duty concessions on marine fuel, boats, engines and spare parts, fishing gear, fish handling equipment and other related supplies • Payment of water and electricity at boatyards and landing sites.• Free registration, licensing, inspection services• Maintenance and upgrade subsidy of up to $2000 per boat per year

Aquaculture sub-sectorInland freshwater aquaculture production has been practiced and recorded in Barbados since 2006 with the major species groups being Pisces and Crustacea. Red tilapia has the greatest production, followed by the red claw crayfish. The production by inland water aquaculture in 2013 was 11 tonnes which supplies the local market. There is currently only one aquaculture producing farm operating in the island.

Recreational sub-sectorThe contribution of the recreational fishery to overall marine capture production is through its importance and role in sport fishing, primarily through the charter boat industry and game fishing tournaments. However its impacts have not been assessed.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationAccording to the Barbados Fishery Management Plan 2004-2006, it is estimated that 53% of the fish landed are distributed by vendors. The vendors purchase fish directly from the boat at the landing site or from the processor, usually outside of the landing site. 30% of fish landed are distributed via the processor who either purchases fish from iceboats at the landing site or imports frozen fish. Consumers may obtain fish directly from the boat or the vendor at the landing site. Approximately 9% of fish landed is distributed in this way. 2% of whole fish are purchased from the landing site by the hospitality sector (restaurants, hotels and institutions). Exporters take approximately 6% of fish from the landing sites and primarily export large pelagics such as tunas and swordfish from longline vessels.Fish is an important source of protein for Barbadians.

Fish marketsThe vast majority of fish landed at Barbados are sold locally. Public Markets are categorized as:
  • Primary (market) sites with water and ice production facilities and processing and indoor market facilities, and
  • Secondary sites with a simple building with running tap water and cutting facilities but without windows or doors and without ice production facilities.
  • Tertiary sites where there is little if any permanent physical infrastructure.
  • The 2 major Primary sites have the following additional infrastructure.
  • Bridgetown Public Market has a fishing harbor, ice production facilities and 2 rooms for processing of fish.
  • Oistins – Berinda Cox Fish Market has a jetty, ice production facilities, fish processing rooms, and market stalls.
The final destination of the majority of fish (primarily yellow – fin tuna) exported from Barbados are the US and Canada. Exports into the European market are not possible as the fish supply chain and the public fish processing facilities do meet the stringent Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) standards of the EU. Many of the private fish processing establishments and government facilities are working towards this goal of compliance with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector

Role of fisheries in the national economyIn 2002, the contribution of fisheries to GDP was estimated at US$ 14.6 million. This is 8% of the agriculture contribution and made a contribution of 0.1% to the national total GDP in 2012. The fishing industry continues to be a major social and economic asset.

TradeImports of fish products totaled 25.7 million USD in 2012 and fish exports 0.5 million USD for the same year.

Many of the processing facilities import fish from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Canada and Vietnam. Dolphinfish is also sourced from Peru, shrimp from Indonesia and lobster tails from Jamaica. Fish imported from UK and US include cod, salmon, halibut, seabass, lemon sole, dover sole, scallops and live mussels. Much of the locally caught tuna is exported to Boston, USA.

Food securityBarbados, a small island state with a high food import bill is highly dependent on its fisheries resources and fishing industry for economic and social development. The fishing industry contributes to the local food security and nutrition of the island. 

EmploymentIt is estimated that approximately 6000 individuals are employed, both directly and indirectly in the fishing industry. The harvest sector is made up of fishers and boat owners. Fishers make up 63% of the harvest sector and boat owners 37%. Overall, 78% of the primary stakeholders (including boat owners) are active fishers. The majority of fishermen and boat owners are males. 99% of fishermen and 91% of boat owners are males. Recently, the post-harvest sector has grown, attracting both young women and men in considerable numbers. Vendors and boners make up the majority of the primary post-harvest stakeholders (37% and 39%, respectively). Women make up the majority of the post-harvest sector, comprising 63% of the sector (FMP, 2004).

Trends, issues and development

Constraints and opportunitiesSome of the major challenges and constraints facing the local fisheries sector include international, institutional, harvest and post- harvest sector, infrastructural, stakeholder and environmental challenges. In greater detail, the unknown status of stocks of many of the marine fisheries resources, suspected overfishing and overexploitation of resources and the lack of infrastructure and facilities as well as sub - regional management feature prominently as the major constraints faced by the local fisheries sector.

With these constraints come opportunities for improvement and change. Marine reserves and protected areas serving recreational and tourism purposes may act as population reservoirs for adjacent fished areas. The controlled use of fish aggregating devices (FADS) to increase catches or catch rates of selected species of large pelagics should be looked into. Furthermore, there is a need for fishing access agreements to harvest flying fish resources that seem under-utilized in neighboring countries.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies

The Barbados National Union of Fisher folk Organizations (BARNUFO) is the umbrella fisher folk organization comprised of five other site specific fisher folk associations and two boat owner associations. Some of their achievements since 2009 include the implementation of a group medical plan for fisher folk; workshops on strengthening fisher folk organizations (CANARI); implementation of the small scale fisheries guidelines (CERMES); and coordination of annual fishermen’s week activities. Ongoing initiatives include the development of a fisher folk database and participating as member of the Caribbean Network of Fisheries Organizations (CNFO).

Research, education and trainingResearchBy law, the government must be informed about fisheries research activities in the waters of Barbados and must grant permission for it to be conducted. It is expected that the information resulting from research will improve and guide future management decisions to prevent facilitate sustainability of fishery resources.The Fisheries Division conducts research on various topics including but not limited to collection and analysis of catch and effort, biological and ecological, social and economic data.Currently, CERMES and FAO are collaborating with BARNUFO and the Fisheries Division conducting research on various aspects of the fishery including being a member of the gender in fisheries team (GIFT) with CERMES and developing a National Plan of Action for the conservation and management of Sharks (NPOA – Sharks) for Barbados (FAO). Education and trainingBARNUFO provides training annually in order to build capacity including but not limited to first aid, navigation and SOLAS, fish handling, boat engine maintenance, financial planning, and book-keeping. Moreover, BARNUFO collaborates with other organizations and institutions such as the FAO and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) to provide workshops for fisher folk in the industry.

Foreign aidThere is currently limited foreign aid support to the Fisheries Division. However, a small corporation project with the Government of Argentina with assessing the use of collapsible fish pots and bottom longlines is ongoing.

Institutional framework

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management has primary responsibility for fisheries mainly through its Fisheries Division and Markets Division. A Fisheries Advisory Committee (FAC) comprised of a biologist specializing in fisheries science, government and industry stakeholders and the Chief Fisheries advises the Minister. There are several non – governmental stakeholders often involved in different ways in the fisheries management institutional framework, such as the Barbados Game Fishing Association (BGFA), the Bellairs Research Institute of McGill University, CERMES of the UWI and FAO.

The main international fisheries organizations in the Caribbean are FAO/WECAFC and CRFM. Other regional institutions and organizations involved in fisheries issues include: the University of the West Indies.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: provides technical advice and assistance on a project basis, provides technical and scientific literature, and facilitates consultation on fisheries topics mainly through occasional regional meetings.

The FAO Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) promotes the effective conservation, management and development of the living marine resources of the area of competence of the Commission, in accordance with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and address common problems of fisheries management and development faced by members of the Commission. 

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is the primary regional body involved in fisheries issues in the Caribbean. CRFM 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 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT): provides information on the regional management of tunas and tuna-like species following stock assessment and associated research, and determines appropriate management measures for fishery conservation. Barbados became a Contracting Party on 13 December 2000 and is now fully entitled to participate in the meeting of the Commission and all other aspects of ICCAT for which the appropriate fees are paid.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Barbados is a contracting party to CITES, having joined in 2002 and entered into force in 2003.

Barbados is also party to the following International instruments and organizations which assist in properly managing the resources in the EEZ:

• UN Fish Stocks Agreement (22 September 2000).

• FAO Compliance Agreement (26 October 2000)

• The Tuna Convention establishing ICCAT (13 December 2000).

• The SIDS Plan of Action, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol of the Cartegna Convention, International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

Legal frameworkThe Fisheries Act (Cap 391) provides the legal authority for management and development of fisheries in Barbados and for the administration of the Fisheries Act including the Fisheries Management Plan.The existing fisheries (management) regulations (1998) include mesh size restrictions for seine nets (3.81cm, stretched mesh, minimum size) and fish traps (3.18 cm at narrowest point); the mandatory installation of escape panels and identification marks on fish traps; prohibits the use of trammel nets and other entangling nets; prohibits the capture of lobsters carrying eggs or removing the eggs from lobsters (scrubbing); prohibits the capture, possession or sale of marine turtles, turtle eggs and turtle parts; bans the use of SCUBA for harvesting sea eggs; regulates the sea egg fishery through the designation of closed seasons and closed areas by the Minister responsible for fisheries, prohibits landing tunas of less than 3.2 kg live weight; stipulates that aquatic flora or fish to be used for ornamental purposes may only be fished with the written permission of the Chief Fisheries Officer, stipulates that corals may not be damaged, destroyed or fished without the written permission of the Chief Fisheries Officer.The maximum penalties for breaking of any these regulations are a fine of $50,000 and/or two years imprisonment. At the time of writing, a suite of revised Fisheries Regulations are awaiting Cabinet’s consideration.

Although not included under the Fisheries Act, fishing is prohibited within a marine reserve consisting of four zones (Folkestone Marine Reserve) stretching along a 1.5 km length of the West Coast of the island (NCC, 2015).

The Fisheries Act (1993, amended 2000) is the principle fisheries legislation and mandates the formulation and review of fisheries management and development schemes; the establishment of a fisheries advisory committee; fisheries access agreements; local and foreign fishing licensing; sport fishing; registration of fishing vessels; construction and alteration of fishing vessels; fisheries research; fisheries enforcement and the obligation to supply information. Also specifies conservation measures such as prohibiting the use of any explosive, poison or other noxious substance; closed seasons, gear restrictions, creation of marine reserves. The Act gives the Minister responsible for fisheries the authority to create new regulations for the management of fisheries as and when necessary.

Other legislation that impacts on fisheries include: the Coastal Zone Management Act (1998), Marine Boundaries and Jurisdiction Act (1978) and the Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Act (1976).

Regional and international legal framework

  • Exclusive Economic Zone Co – operation Treaty between the Republic of Guyana and the State of Barbados concerning the exercise of jurisdiction of their Exclusive Economic Zones in the area of Bilateral Overlap of their outer limits and beyond the outer limits in the Exclusive Economic Zones of other states. (2003)
  • Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. (2002).
  • Maritime Boundary Agreements
  • The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP): A binding treaty focusing on cooperation and collaboration of Caribbean people, fishermen and their governments in conserving, managing and sustainably utilizing fisheries and related ecosystems.
  • There is still no progress and no agreement regarding the status of shared flying fish stocks with Trinidad.

Fisheries Division. 2004. Barbados Fisheries Management Plan 2004-2006: Schemes for the Management of Fisheries in the Waters of Barbados. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Government of Barbados, 67 p.
Maraj, V., S-A. Cox and H.A. Oxenford. 2011 The current status of the small-scale seine fishery in Barbados. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 63:411-419.Mahon, R., C. Parker, T. Sinckler, S. Willoughby, and J. Johnson. 2007. The Value of Barbados’ fisheries: a preliminary assessment. Fisheries Management Plan Public Information Document 2: 24 pp.
Masters, J. 2014. CRFM Statistics and Information Report - 2012. 70pp.
Research and Planning Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. Barbados Economic and Social Report. 2014. 188pp.
Simpson, N., H.A. Oxenford; D.Gill; and R.Turner. 2014 The Spear Fishery of Barbados. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (66): 1-8. .
Staskiewicz, T., J. Walcott, H.A. Oxenford, and P.W. Schuhmann. 2008. Analysis of the Fisheries Landings, Vessel and Demographic Data Collected by the Government of Barbados. First project report on the economic valuation of the fisheries of Barbados, Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Barbados. 54 pp.
Willoughby, S. and D. Leslie. 2000. Fishing gear of Barbados. Fisheries Division report. FDR-002-2000. 41pp.
World Bankhttp://data.worldbank.org/country/barbados .
NCChttp://nccbarbados.gov.bb/content/about-folkestone-marine-reserve .

Additional information

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