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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
      • Fishing communities
    • 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
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes

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 briefNovember, 2018.

The Cayman Islands is an autonomous British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The 264km2 territory comprises the three islands of Grand CaymanCayman Brac and Little Cayman. The Cayman Islands is considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles.No major commercial fishery exists, although artisanal and recreational fishing occurs. All three islands have fish landing sites. Fishing activities bring no significant contribution to the country’s economy. Total capture production for Cayman Islands is 125 tonnes, however no species breakdown is available. In 2010, 1800 people were reported as employed in the fishing sector.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data – Cayman Islands

Shelf area 506 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org
Length of continental coastline 160 km http://world.bymap.org/Coastlines.html
Fisheries GDP (year) Not available Not available

Key statistics

Country area264km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area240km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area24km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.06millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2019
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area118 651km2VLIZ
GDP (current US$)5 142millionsWorld Bank. 2017
GDP per capita (current US$)81 125US$World Bank. 2017
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added0.4% of GDPWorld Bank. 2017

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 – Cayman Islands

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2014 2015 2016
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 1.8 1.8 1.8
  Capture 1.8 1.8 1.8
    Marine 1.8 1.8 1.8
FLEET(thousands boats)
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 sectorThe Cayman Islands consist of three islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, located between 19°15' and 19°45' N latitude and between 79°44’ and 81°27' W longitude. They are the peaks of a sub- merged ridge, which runs westwards from the Sierra Maestra mountain range of Cuba. These three Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom are the most arid and isolated of West Indian islands, unusually flat and formed entirely from calcareous marine deposits. The population is small, around 60 000 people, half of them are living in the capital city, George Town.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileAvailable catch statistics are very poor. The estimate amount of marine fish not specified is set at 125 tonnes. Some years ago, landings of unidentified marine crustaceans were registered, probably spiny lobster, exceeding 300 tonnes.

Landing sitesLanding sites exist in all three islands; main landing place is George Town.

Fishing practices/systemsFishing practices are small scale, hand lines and diving, to hand collect spiny lobster and Queen conch. Scuba diving is prohibited for all species, but the invasive lionfish. Spear guns fishers have to get a license, and can take only three fish per day.

Main resourcesThere are some spiny lobster and Queen conch resources, together with Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus). Their exploitation level is unknown, but probably not overexploited.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe management goal is to protect shark and rays, especially due to their attraction for tourists dedicated to snorkeling.

Management objectivesProtection of endangered species.

Management measures and institutional arrangements

The rules in place to protect fish include year round fishing bans on sharks and rays.

Nassau groupers have a closed season which begins on 1 December and lasts until 30 April. Anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, exchanges, donates, possesses, or permits another person to take Nassau grouper from Cayman Islands waters during this period of time commits an offence.

Spiny lobsters have a closed season starting on the 1st March until 30th November. There is a minimum size in place of six-inch tail length. The bag limit is three lobster per person or six per boat per day, whichever is less. Anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, exchange or donation, or possesses, or permits another person to take more than three lobsters from Cayman Islands waters commits an offence.

Queen conch and whelks have a closed season which starts on 1st May and lasts until 31st October. Bag limit is five conch each person or 10 per boat, per day, and two-and-a-half gallons in the shell or two-and-a-half pounds of processed whelks per person per day. Anyone breaching these limits commits an offense.

Chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth as well as echinoderms, including starfish, sea eggs/urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars, may not be taken from Cayman Islands waters at any time. The wearing of gloves while snorkelling is also banned and divers cannot take any marine life other than lionfish while scuba diving.

Fishing communitiesDue to the prevalent urban character of the country, very few fishing communities exist.

Inland sub-sectorNo inland fisheries exist in the country.

Aquaculture sub-sectorNo aquaculture in the country.

Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fisheries is an important part of the tourism industry. Year round, good catches take place as close as a quarter mile offshore all three Cayman Islands, where the ocean floor drops off sharply, plummeting thousands of feet and creating a natural thoroughfare for the big migratory pelagic species prized by anglers.

Popular gamefish such as blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin (dorado) and barracuda are caught year-round. Occasional catches of white marlin and, very rarely, Atlantic sailfish and Atlantic long-billed spearfish are also reported.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationAll fish landed is consumed in fresh form.

Fish marketsThe fish market is both supplied by domestic fresh fish, crustaceans and molluscs, and by imported frozen products.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe importance of fisheries to the GDP is close to zero, due to the specific formation of the Cayman Islands’ GDP, which is mainly created through financial transactions.

TradeImports are important, especially direct towards the hotel and restaurant sector. Main commodities imported included frozen shrimp, canned tuna, frozen salmon. The quantity imported is about twice the domestic fish production.

Food securityAs 90% of the food consumed is imported, the local fisheries play a key role as the only autonomous source of food supply. However, being the Cayman Islands one of the richest countries in the world, food security is not really an issue.

EmploymentThe Cayman Islands have a small population of 60,765 (as of 2016) and therefore a limited workforce. Fishing is an important source of employment, at least as part time activity. However, no numbers are available.

Rural developmentCayman Islands are a very developed country, mainly of an urban character; therefore the role of rural development is limited, as is the role of fisheries in it.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe main constraint is the overall economic environment, which concentrates on financial transactions and does not look at all at fisheries, or any other agricultural activity. The fisheries sector is somewhere hidden in the department of economy, which indicates that the policy is more focused on environmental protection rather than on development of the sector. Statistics provided by the country are extremely poor, which means that the sector does not have any role in the political environment of the country.Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesIn the present economic situation, there are no development strategies in place, and nothing is likely to emerge in the near future.

Research, education and trainingResearchNo recent research has been carried out on the fisheries environment, resource status, or any fisheries related activities.

Foreign aidBeing a rich country, no foreign aid is granted to Cayman Islands.

Institutional frameworkThe Department of Environment (DoE), under the Ministry for Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce (TEIC), is the main Government agency responsible for the management and conservation of the environment and natural resources.The DoE works to facilitate responsible management and sustainable use of the natural environment and resources of the Cayman Islands through various environmental protection and conservation programmes and strategies.

Legal framework National Conservation Law, 2013 (No. 24 of 2013). A Law to promote and secure biological diversity and the sustainable use of natural resources in the Cayman Islands; to protect and conserve endangered, threatened and endemic wildlife and their habitats; to provide for protected terrestrial, wetland and marine areas; to give effect to the provisions of the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas And Wildlife to The Convention for the Protection and Development Of The Marine Environment of The Wider Caribbean Region; To Give Effect to Related Provisions of The Convention On Wetlands of International Importance Especially As Waterfowl Habitat, The Convention On The Conservation of Migratory Species Of Wild Animals, The Global Convention On Biological Diversity And The United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change; to repeal the Marine Conservation Law (2013 revision); and for incidental and connected purposes. Marine Conservation Law (2013 Revision). This Act makes provision for the conservation of the marine environment and fisheries resources. For this purpose, a Marine Conservation Board is established. The Board shall be responsible in general for the administration of this Law, control fisheries officers, issue licenses under this Law, and collect fees. Part III concerns the protection of lobsters, conch and other fish resources. The Governor may designate areas of Cayman waters to be restricted marine areas under section 10. Marine parks may be established under section 11 and spawning areas under section 12. Part V places restrictions on the use of gear, the taking of marine life, and regulates powers of enforcement. Other provisions, among other things, prohibit the feeding of sharks and the discharge of harmful effluents or raw sewage in Cayman waters.

Regional and international legal frameworkCayman Islands are part of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).



CRFM: Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism DoE: Department of Environment GDP: Gross Domestic ProductTEIC: Ministry for Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce

Additional information

Meetings & News archive


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