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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
      • 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
    • Rural development
  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. 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: May, 2019

Located on the northern coast of South America and bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, French Guiana, Guyana and Brazil, the country of Suriname has a coastline of 380 km and a continental shelf area of 54 550 km2. Fishing vessels operating in Surinamese waters are multi-species and multi-gear, with trawlers, snapper boats, open or decked wooden vessels and canoes. The various fishing fleets are defined as combinations of boat and gear, and the artisanal fleet is divided into coastal and inland fleets. The total number of vessels reported in 2016 was 1 502. Overall, the sector is divided into deep sea, coastal, brackish water and freshwater fisheries. Aquaculture and fisheries employed an estimated 4 876 people in 2017.

 In 2017 the production of capture fisheries was around 47 000 tonnes, with small shrimp (called seabob) accounting for about 7 650 tonnes. Three-quarters of the fish catch is caught by the artisanal fleet although other fisheries are developing as tuna catches began to be reported in 2012 and reached 4 700 tonnes in 2015, decreasing to 3 400 in 2016 and 2017.Aquaculture, especially small-scale freshwater aquaculture and rice-fish culture, is seen to have a good potential for improving livelihoods of poor rural households by generating income, increasing fish consumption and improving family nutrition. However, no significant progress has been made in this respect so far. The total aquaculture production in 2017 was estimated 110 tonnes.

In 2017 exports of fish and fishery products were estimated at USD 107 million, while imports at USD 5.7 million. The role of the fisheries sector in the economy of the country is seen as: assuring a reasonable animal protein supply for the local population (estimated per capita consumption amounted to 17.7 kg in 2013); providing jobs (some 3 800 in the primary sector and 2 300 in the secondary sector); assisting the balance of payment through export of fish and shrimp products; contributing 2.2 percent to national GDP; and contributing to the national budget through fees and income taxes.
General geographic and economic indicators

Shelf area 53,738 km2

Sea Around Us Project: http://www.seaaroundus.org

Length of continental coastline 386 km World by Map: http://world.bymap.org
Fisheries GDP (year) 2.2% Nat GDP RFM Statistics and Information Report – 2012
Title: Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Suriname*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

Country area163 820km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area156 000km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area7 820km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.561millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area133 870km2VLIZ

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.

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2015 2016 2017
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 2.10 4.10 4.11 4.88 4.88 4.88 4.88
  Aquaculture 0.05 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.04
  Capture 2.10 4.05 4.11 4.84 4.84 4.84 4.84
    Inland 0.85 1.50 1.02 1.18 1.18 1.18 1.18
    Marine 1.25 2.55 3.09 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66
FLEET(thousands boats) 0.78 1.15 1.56 1.50
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up
Title: Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Suriname

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 sectorLocated on the northern coast of South America and bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, French Guiana, Guyana and Brazil, the country of Suriname has a coastline of 380 km and a continental shelf area of 54 550 km2.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileIn 2017 total catch production amounted to 47 000 tonnes.Two fishing areas can be identified: The Deep-Sea Zone (beyond 10 fathoms) – this is the area of industrial fisheries. Industrial fishing tends to occur at depths greater than 18 meters (10 fathoms). In the deep-sea zone of the marine water resources, fishers target deep-sea shrimp species and fish such as red snapper, mackerel and other larger pelagic types such as sharks, tuna and related fish.

The Shallow Zone (0 – 10 fathoms) – this area is dominated by artisanal fishers (typically holding an Inland Water (BV) or Suriname Coast (SK) license. In this zone, fishers target Sciaenidae and Ariidea species in conjunction with the shallow water Seabob shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri). The shallow zone is characterized by its shallow contour and brown to green. By law, these zones are also related to the types of fishing that are allowed (Figure 4b). Trawling, for instance, is not allowed in the shallow sea zone. Seabob shrimp fishing is allowed between 10 fathoms (18.3m) water depth to 15 fathoms (27.4m) water depth to the limit of Suriname waters. Commercial fishers (other than Seabob shrimp fishers) can fish from 15 fathoms (27.4m) water depth to the limit of Suriname waters. Deep-sea shrimp trawlers can fish from 45 fathoms (82.3m) to the limit of Suriname waters. Fishing on tuna and tuna-like species is allowed from 28 fathoms to the limit of Suriname waters.

Landing sitesThe main landing site is the capital city, the place where also all the fish processing plants are based. All landing places are in the four estuaries of the country: from east to west: the Marowijne estuary, the Suriname-Commewijne estuary, the Coppename-Saramacca estuary and the Corantijne-Nickerie estuary.Important designated boat landings for artisanal fishing vessels are located in the Suriname River, the Nickerie River, the Coppename River (Boskamp) in the district of Saramacca and the Marowijne River (Galibi) in the district of Marowijne. Artisanal fishing communities bring their catch to different landings in Paramaribo North (Iijn 4, the Waldring boat landing or Clevia) or the Central Market. A large concentration of artisanal fishermen is located in Boskamp in the district of Saramacca. These fishermen bring their catch to the “small bridge” area of Boskamp. Individual fishermen in Totness (Coronie district) bring their catch to the Totness canal. At Nieuw Nickerie fishermen bring their catch to the Zeedijk or turtleback area as both places are used as landing sites for artisanal fishers.

The commercial fishing vessels are predominantly (percentage/numbers) owned by fish processing companies that land their harvest for own processing at the central fish landing harbour called Centrale Visaanvoer Haven Suriname (CEVIHAS) or at their private landing stage. These are all located in the Suriname River or near Paramaribo. Landings used for trawling operations in Paramaribo are Bethesda and CEVIHAS; whilst in the district of Para the boat landings are Domburg and Paranam.

Fishing practices/systemsThe industrial fishery comprises shrimp trawling fleets, finfish trawling fleets, red snapper and mackerel hand-liners and large-pelagic long-liners. Industrial fishermen use two types of fishing techniques: trawling (shrimp and fish trawling) and longline fishing. All fishers must register their vessels according to the Fishing Decree. This registry is handled by the Maritime Authority Suriname (MAS). Registered vessels must attach their registration number plates on both sides of the bow. All vessels must always contain the official licensing and registration documentation on board.

Coastal fishing or SK fishing includes drifting gillnetters, pin seiners and bottom long-liners. SK fishers use two types of boats:▪ Decked wooden vessels named “closed type Guyanese vessels” or inboard. This type of boat typically stays at sea for two to three weeks, or up to a month in exceptional cases and typically 15 meters in length.▪ Open wooden vessels named “open type Guyanese vessels” or “cabin cruiser” can stay for about two weeks at sea and are between 12 to 14 meters long.All commercial and artisanal licensed and registered fishermen are obligated to install a tracking device called the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) on their vessel.

Main resourcesFish production in Suriname shows an upward trend in recent years, however, more than 70% of the production is registered as marine fish not specified. Shrimp is the main product identified, primarily Atlantic seabob, with some 7 600 tonnes in average. This resource received the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2011. The initiative for certification came from the largest shrimp processor in Europe. In response, the fishermen and the Suriname government worked with conservation organisations to set up a working group to oversee fishing practices; and took measures to reduce bycatch such as a device to allow young and small fish to escape the net. Larger fish, rays and turtles also escape through a hatch. The licence for the seabob fishery now makes two escape panels compulsory. Large Seabob shrimp are caught during Suriname’s long rainy season (May-August), which mostly occurs in the Suriname River. In December-January, fishers catch the small “wit-bere” shrimp, which mostly occur in the Commewijne River.

Another important fisheries is the industrial tuna fishery. This resource is regulated by ICCAT.

Management applied to main fisheriesSuriname has problems with Monitoring and Control, thus management measures are relatively simple. Some protected areas are existing where fishing is interdicted. Licensing is compulsory for all fishing units. Fishing effort can be limited by restricting the number of fishing licences. Unlike the BV licenses, fishers with SK licenses have a limitation to their numbers issued by the Fisheries Department. Management objectivesSustainable fisheries is the corner stone of fisheries development.Management measures and institutional arrangementsThe Fisheries Management Plan for Suriname for the period from 2014 to 2018 sets out the general policy). The main objective of the Plan is to safeguard the biological diversity of fish resources in Suriname and a sustainable exploitation of those resources.

Specific objectives derived from the main objective include, among other things, control of fishing fleet capacity, reduction of undesirable bycatch (especially of protected species), enhancement of use of new fishing methods, improvement of control and monitoring measures, better quality control regarding export of fishing products, improvement of fisheries data for management decisions, improvement of the resilience of stakeholders in the fisheries sector.

This Plan sets out general a general policy for fisheries and specific measures with regard to registration of fishing vessels, licensing of fishing vessels, VMS, the obligation to land fish in Suriname, fisheries areas and protected areas, and installation of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). The Plan also sets out policy measures for specific fisheries such as large pelagic fisheries (for tuna, regulated by ICCAT) and related protection of sharks, line fisheries for snappers and mackerel, bottom trawling for shrimps (grids will be tested), seabob bottom trawling fisheries (regulation of authorizations), fishing for demersal species (regulation of authorizations), driftnet fishing for specific species (introduction of restrictions), inland fishing (only authorization of small vessels). Furthermore, the Plan dedicates a chapter to the decision-making process and participation in this process by stakeholders (category associations) and improvement of organization of fishermen. Other matter dealt with is improvement of Monitoring, Surveillance and Control (MCS), regional cooperation and fisheries research.

Inland sub-sectorThe inland fisheries is not very important with about 800 tonnes of inland recorded. The catch statistics do not identify inland water species.Catch profileMain species caught are peacock bass (Chicla oscellaris), catfish (Pseudoplatystom sp.), and cachama/redbellied pacu (Colossoma macropomum).

Landing sitesThe main landing sites are along the rivers and in the estuaries.

Fishing practices/systemsBV licensed fishers use two types of boats: flat bottom boats and round bottom boats.

Main resourcesThe resource situation of inland fish is unknown. There are some indications on smaller sizes, which point out some problems with the resource sustainability.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe only management measure applied to inland fisheries is the exclusivity of small boats to be used. Fishers with an inland navigation (BV) fishing license are allowed to fish in creeks and rivers, including to the river mouth. As “river mouth” has not been defined by law, these fishers also enter the shallow parts of the coastal zone. For certain fishing techniques, such as Jagi-Jagi, the fishers stay in the river mouth because they depend on the tide. Yet when working with the long-line or drifting gillnet, the fishers enter the fertile mudflats or go even deeper at sea; up to a depth of 4 to 6 fathoms (7 meter to 11-meter depth).

Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture, especially small-scale freshwater aquaculture and rice-fish culture, is seen to have a good potential for improving livelihoods of poor rural households by generating income, increasing fish consumption and improving family nutrition. However, no significant progress has been made in this respect, with freshwater aquaculture production remaining at the level of just over 100 tonnes so far.

One company produced cultured shrimp, but outputs have been going down in recent years. On the other hand, some cachama (Colossoma macropomum) production has emerged in recent years. This is an indigenous freshwater species.

Recreational sub-sectorThe marine water resources contain several unique species, such as dolphins, sea turtles, whale sharks and manta rays, of which many are sensitive to changing circumstances. Communities living along the coast take tourists to watch Guiana dolphins, sea turtles and other interesting species. Recreational fisheries are underdeveloped compared to other places in the Caribbean.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationShrimp is mainly frozen for export. The various finfish from the artisanal fisheries are consumed in fresh form.

Fish marketsAll fishermen operating industrial and artisanal fishing vessels are obligated to deliver their catch to designated landings in Suriname. These landings are designated by the Fisheries Department where data regarding the catches is collected and documented in special logbook forms and must be sent electronically to the Fisheries Department after each landing. This is the case for industrial fishing, but in the case of artisanal fishing not all landings are recorded due to a sample-based system that used by the Fisheries Department. As mentioned before, the recording system works well for the registration of industrial fishing since each catch of each vessel is traceable. However, for the SK fleet, sometimes flaws are detected within the system, catches of different vessels being registered together.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe fishing industry is an important economic sector in Suriname. Over the last decade, the sector has become increasingly important and currently represents 2.3% of GDP.

TradeSuriname’s fisheries is predominantly export oriented. The value of exports has increased over the past years, going just over to US$ 100 million in 2017. Main export items are frozen marine fish and frozen shrimp. Imports, on the other hand, are worth only US$ 5.7 million, thus a fraction of the export value, making Suriname a net exporting country of fishery products. Main import item are canned sardines, important in the food security of the country.

Food securityFish plays an important part in food supply, with a per capita consumption of 17.7 kg in 2017, about double the South American average.

EmploymentEmployment can be estimated at around 8 000 people in the whole fisheries value chain, including the processing sector. Additional jobs are created through the spin-off of this sector, including suppliers of fishing gear, engine maintenance, and fuel.

Rural developmentFisheries plays an important role in rural development, especially in the coastal areas.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe main constraints is the outdated fisheries law, and the limited staff and budget of the fisheries department, despite the relative importance of the sector. Management is not very developed, and most of the marine and all of the inland fish catch is identified as unspecified, which makes any sustainability and resource management very difficult if not impossible.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe government policy is very limited, looking at a closed number of licences, without tackling the main issues of management.

Research, education and trainingResearchResearch is carried out by various Dutch Universities, on ecosystem approach to fisheries: the seabob shrimp in Suriname and the utilization of shrimp by catch.

Education and trainingNo education programme for fishers exists.

Foreign aidThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environment Fund (GEF) Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) project is implementing various national projects in Suriname.

Institutional frameworkThe overarching governmental department that is responsible for execution of the governmental fisheries policy and for control on compliance with legal regulations concerning fishing is the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (LVV).

The Fish Inspection Institute (VKI) was established by the Ministry of LVV in 2007. The VKI is the competent authority established to inspect the quality of fish products and see if caught fish follows food health regulations under the Fish Inspection Act of 2000. The main tasks of this institute include: 1) determining of quality standards for all fishery products; 2) inspections and control on the hygiene on board fishing vessels, all plants, landing sites and commercial aquaculture farms; 3) execution of control over the entire production chain of fisheries products from packing, labelling, storage and transportation of fisheries products. The VKI is the competent authority for export of fishery products to the EU.

Legal frameworkThe fishing decree, 1980 (S.B. 1980 No. 144, as amended by Act S.B. 2001 No. 120): Authorizes the government to make regulations for the protection of marine fish stocks, and defines the fishery zone as the territorial waters of Suriname including the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). By law of April 14th, 1978, it is prohibited for neither Surinamese nations nor foreigners to fish in the fishery zone without a valid fishing license. This includes the licensing and registration of all fishing vessels. This fishing decree is under reformulation at the moment.

Law on the Territorial Sea and the Continuous Economic Zone 1978 (S.B. 1978 No. 26): Defines the territorial sea of Suriname at 12 nautical miles from the nearest point on the line of low-water mark along the shore and establishes a zone, and the “Economic Zone", at 200 nautical miles from the coast. Claims Suriname’s sovereign rights concerning the exploration, exploitation, conservation and management of living and non living resources within these zones.

Fish Protection Act, 1961 (G.B. 1961 No. 44 as amended by Act S.B. 1981 No. 66): Prohibits the taking or disturbance of fish within Suriname’s territorial waters (except during established fishing seasons).

Fisheries Act of 7 April 2017: Act regulating the Maritime Zones of the Republic of Suriname and amending the Offshore Fisheries Act 1980 and the Mining Decree (Maritime Zones Act).

Regional and international legal frameworkSuriname is a Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Suriname has not ratified the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement, the 1995 UN fish Stocks Agreement and 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement. Suriname is member country of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Commission for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPESCAALC), International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), International Whaling Commission (IWC), and the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC)


CEVIHAS Centrale Visaanvoer Haven Suriname
CLME Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems
COPESCAALC Commission for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean
CRFM Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
EEZ Exclusive economic zone
GEF Global Environment Fund
GDP Gross Domestic Product
ICCAT International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna
IWC International Whaling Commission
LVV Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries
MAS Maritime Authority Suriname
MCS Monitoring, Surveillance and Control
MSC Marine Stewardship Council
TEDs Turtle Excluder Devices
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
VKI Fish Inspection Institute
VMS Vessel Monitoring System
WECAFC Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission

Smith, G. and D. Burkhardt. 2017. Socio-economic Study of the Fisheries Sector in Suriname. WWF Guianas, 46 pp.
Bansie, R. (2010) Developing Sustainable Fishery Management Strategy In Suriname A Comparative Study For Marine Shrimp, Maastricht School of Management.

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