The designations employed and the presentation of material in the map(s) are for illustration only and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers or boundaries.
⇧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
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a Caribbean small island State that occupies an area of 340 km2 with a coastline of 84 km length and a population of 109 000 in 2013. Fisheries are one of the main economic activities of the country in terms of employment generation, contribution to food supply and foreign exchange earnings especially through intraregional trade.
The fishing industry in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines used to be predominantly small-scale and artisanal, employing traditional gear, methods and vessels. It was reported in 2014 that 1 900 people was engaged in marine coastal fisheries and 900 in the deep sea fishery. In 2014, 12 people (10 men and 2 women) were reported as employed in aquaculture.
Since late 1980s, however, vessels flying the country’s flag started fishing for tuna in the Western Central Atlantic and various species in the Eastern Central Atlantic. These catches are landed mainly in foreign ports. Currently Saint Vincent and Grenadines registered 24 vessels as authorized vessels for tunas fishing under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) area. For the daily consumption of fish in the country, this fishery does not play any role, as only 38 tonnes were landed in St Vincent in 2010.
Catch production of St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2014 was 81 413 tonnes, of which 95% is made of pelagic species. Compared to 2013 the catch production more than doubled, in 2013 the total catch production was of 39 496 tonnes. About 840 boats were reported in 2014. Most fishers are daily operators, going out to sea in the morning and returning to land in the late afternoon or evening. Total landings from these fisheries have been fluctuating around 700–900 tonnes during the last decade. There are also fisheries for lobster and conch. There hasn’t been commercial operation of aquaculture in the country so far.
Annual per capita consumption amounted to about 18.3 kg in 2013. Approximately 60 percent of fish landed in Saint Vincent is marketed through the Kingstown market complex, a modern and suitable facility built with bilateral financing and technical assistance from the Government of Japan.
In 2014, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines exported fish for an estimate total of USD 0.4 million and imported for a total of USD 2.2 million. Production from the Grenadines is mainly sold to buyers from Martinique that demand high-value species. There is also an important export trade to Saint Lucia. Registered export figures do not reflect the important level of intraregional trade in which Saint Vincent is involved.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea since October 1993. The country has also ratified the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. The country did not ratify as yet the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement. The country also hosts a sub-secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanisms (CRFM) and is promoting the application of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries among its fishers.
General geographic and economic indicators
Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - St. Vincent and the Grenadines
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 - St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.
Updated 2014⇧Part 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 sectorIn St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Fisheries Division falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation. Fisheries is primarily in the marine sub-sector with a very small amount of inland freshwater fishing. There is no aquaculture and recreational fishing is more for livelihood than sport.
In 2009, the Ministry’s strategic objectives for fisheries included reducing pressure on inshore fishing, sustainable utilization of the resource, sustainable aquaculture development and quality assurance. The 2013 – 2025 Development Plan expanded this thrust in an effort to revitalize the agricultural and fisheries sector to play a significant role in the country’s socio-economic development and protection of its environment. Currently, the actual contribution of the fisheries sector to the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is unknown, even though the National Statistical Department recorded the contribution to GDP as 0.4%. Fresh water fish and shrimp production and small marine fish catch are not captured or recorded in the economic reports even though these are well entrenched in the socio cultural practices of Vincentians. Government policy makers believe that in order to maximize the benefits that can be derived from the fisheries sector it must continuously adapt to changes in the global production and trading environment. Such adaptation must take place at all levels: pre-production, production, harvesting, processing and marketing phases, and must take into account the realities of our capabilities. Although the transformation has been slow, it is occurring.
Marine sub-sectorCatch profile
Landings remain relatively constant averaging 806,230 Kg per year between 2003 and 2015. For fisheries purposes, the island is divided into seven (7) zones. The Kingstown Fish Market in zone 1 landed 58% while the Grenadines in zone 6 landed approximately 12%.
Beach seining is on the decline due to commercial development in the coastal zone. New techniques are, however, being developed to support net fishing. Robin (Decapterus macarellus) (50,000 Kg), balahoo (Hemiramphus unifasciatus) (40,000 Kg) and jacks (Selar crumenopthalmus) (89,000Kg) are the most common species captured in this way.
Deep sea fishing lands mainly dolphins, yellow fin tuna, skip jacks and kingfish. Lobsters and Conchs net the largest individual species taken by fishermen. There were concerns that the conch population was in danger but research conducted by the Fisheries Research Unit indicates that there is no overfishing of conch in SVG*.
Fresh water fishing is primarily traditional and seasonal with most fishing being done around Easter when some religious groups refrain from eating meat, turning instead to fish and shrimp. The fishing method is largely by hand with baskets that are used to sift through the rubble at the slow flowing edges of streams or around stones in the river. Such catch are not recorded nor reported so that no accurate account can be provided.
There are 36 recorded landing sites in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 20 on the mainland and 16 in Grenadines (Figure 1). Most of these sites lack modern infrastructure and facilities for storage. In some cases the landing sites are just designated points where the fishermen pull their boats on the sand and sell their catch to the villagers or persons passing by (e.g Spring on the east coast, Clare Valley on the south west and Walliabou on the west coast).
*In 2011 they carried out a reef survey supported by Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) and determined that reefs in SVG possess high fish diversity and complexity. Reef monitoring has since become a function of the Unit. In 2013, with financial support from EU ACP, the Unit conducted a survey of Conch to determine the impact of fishing on the conch population. The survey result indicates that there is no overfishing of conch in SVG.
Figure 1 Location of Landing Sites in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Source :Physical Planning Department)
The Fishing industry in St. Vincent is predominantly small‐scale and artisanal with most fishermen operating from small boats close to the shore. These near shore fishers often use makeshift fishing gears or gears (including boats) that are in poor condition.
The fleet consists of eight hundred and thirty nine (839) (Table 1 and 2) registered vessels operating from thirty six (36) landing sites, of which twenty (20) are located on the mainland and sixteen (16) in the Grenadines). Most of these landing sites lack modern infrastructure and in reality are just designated points where fishermen pull up their boats to serve the villages.
While deep sea fishers use hooks and lines, the near shore fishers use nets, fish pots and some divers use spear guns.
Fishers in SVG harvest a variety of demersal finfish and shellfish, large offshore and small coastal pelagic, turtles, mammals, crustaceans and a variety of freshwater fish. Balahoo (Hemiramphus balao), Jacks (Selan crumenophthalmus) and Robin (Decapterus macarellus) are the most common in the coastal waters while Dolphin (Coryphaena hippurus)), Snapper (Lutjannus buccanella), Tuna (Thunnus abesus) and Cavallie (Caranx spp.) are most abundant among the deep water species.
The average annual landings for the period 2003 to 2012 as recorded by the Fisheries Department in Kingstown is 802,230kg at a net value of EC$7million. The trend shows catch peaking yearly around March with an average of 90,909 kg per month then declines gradually to a low of around 45,455kg in December. Apart from the seasonal fluctuation and the small variation in annual catch, there is no observed or recorded decline among the major species caught in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
There is a decline in volume of fish caught with beach seines, this is not a function of change in the resource base but rather changes in coastal morphology due to human developmental activities and the increase in land based sources of pollution reaching the marine environment.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the population of Goby fish along the coast of St. Vincent is very healthy. The adult females spawn in the estuarine areas between September and January and the juveniles locally called “ tri-tri” are harvested using white sieves. “Tri-tri” harvesting is a livelihood activity for many families living around estuaries. There is a ready market for tri-tri which is considered a delicacy and a source of protein in the Vincentian diet. There is no record of the amount of “tri-tri” caught or the true economic value to St. Vincent.
Management applied to main fisheries
The Fisheries Division of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the mandate for management and development of the fisheries sector in SVG.
Goal four of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) 2013-2025 calls for ‘Improving Physical Infrastructure, Preserving the Environment and Building Resilience to Climate Change’. These goals will be achieved through a sustainable development programme involving development of physical infrastructure, preserving the country’s delicate environment as well as mitigating the effects of climate change. The development programme will include the development and implementation of a Coastal Area Management Plan, national involvement in regional fisheries programs and projects and being in compliance with regional and international fisheries agreements.
The NESDP posits that the agriculture sector, including fisheries, will continue to play a significant role in the country’s socio-economic development. The NESPD’s objectives are to make agriculture, forestry and fishery more productive and sustainable, supported by the following policy goals:
Management objectives for the fisheries sector in SVG focus on improving the physical infrastructure, building resilience to climate change, and ensuring sustainable the development of the fisheries resources while improving fisheries contribution to the national economy. The country hopes to achieve these objectives through collaboration with regional and international partners while re-engineering national economic growth. These objectives are elaborated as follows:
Management measures and institutional arrangements
The Fisheries Act (1986) and Regulation (1987) give the Fisheries Unit the legal authority to issue fishing license to local and foreign fishers and to enforce the terms of these agreements. The Fisheries Regulations also specify conservation measures such as the size of mesh (one inch) to be used in fish pots, and the size of lobsters and the time of year when they can be legally caught. The closed season for lobsters is May 1st to August 31st while the closed season for turtles March 1st to July 31st. Other conservation measures implemented in St. Vincent and the Grenadines include the designation of marine parks and marine conservation areas. The Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) is the only legally designated Marine Park in SVG, the South Coast Marine Park (SCMP) has been proposed and already has a draft management plan with proposed zoning and mooring designations. There are ten (10) conservation areas in the territorial waters of SVG but these have no legal management structures.
There is no catch limit for any of the fisheries in SVG but boat size is a limiting factor to the quantity of fish a fisher can take at any one time and how far into the territorial waters he can go. Management and oversight of fisheries is the responsibility of the Fisheries Division managed by the Chief Fisheries Officer who reports to the Permanent Secretary, the administrative head of the Ministry. The Permanent Secretary reports to the Minister who reports to the Cabinet. The Fisheries Division staff consists of technical officers, data collectors and managers, research and clerical officers.
The National Fisher Folk Co-operative in St. Vincent seeks to provide technical and final support to its members but public and private investment in fisheries initiatives is limited.
Fishing communitiesGiven the topography of St. Vincent, a steep rugged central mountain range with a narrow coastal strip, most Vincentians live on the narrow coastal strip. A number of the coastal communities devolve around fishing. The fishing communities to the north (Sandy Bay, Owia and Fancy on the east and Chateaubelair on the west) are among the poorest. These communities are also furthest away from the economic center of the island. In the fishing communities closer to the economic centers of the island, fewer families depend entirely on fishing, the family income tends to be from multiple sources including farming, working in the public sector or having small trading operations.
Inland sub-sectorThere is very little inland fishing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The topography and size of St. Vincent allow for only swift flowing small rivers and while a variety of shrimp and fresh water fish can be found in these rivers, the volume is very small so that commercial inland fishing is uneconomical. Cultural fishing practices capture nearly all fish species in these rivers including mountain mullet (Agonostomus monitcola), river mullet (Mufil cephalus), goby (Gobisox spp), river lobster (Macrobrachium carunus), crayfish (Macrobrachi crenulatum) and the black shrimp or booky man (Atya innocuous) but there is no record of amounts.
The Grenadines Islands have no inland water source. Rainwater harvesting is a well-developed art, providing water for domestic use but not enough to support ponding.
Fish utilizationFish landed in SVG are sold in the unprocessed form directly to consumers. There is no value added at the Kingstown Fish Market. Any portion of the catch not considered useful for human consumption (including gut, scales and juveniles) is either discarded as waste or given to pig farmers to be used as protein additive in feed. Average annual human consumption of fish stands at 16.7 pounds annually.
The government fish market in Kingstown has the technical capacity to process and package fish but the demands and staffing are limited so that the facilities are underutilized. As a result of this underutilization, 136,000kg of fish by-products (scales, gut, fins etc.) are discarded annually.
Fish marketsWith the exception of the few landing sites with functioning chillers, all fish caught is sold fresh. In Kingstown (the main landing site), the Government Fish Market buys approximately 10% of the landings, the other 90% is sold to vendors operating from the Kingstown fish market. Lobsters and conchs are sold mainly to hotels and restaurants. Of the 1,783,950 pounds of fish landed in Kingstown in 2015, approximately 315,604 pounds were exported mainly to Martinique and the United States.
The government fish market has the technical capacity to process and package fish but the demand for processed fish is limited, resulting in the underutilization of the facility. A result of the underutilization of the facility is that 136,000 Kg of fish by-products (scales, guts, fins etc.) are discarded annually.
In the Grenadines, portions of unsold catch are salted and dried then sold locally. In Kingstown some fish is filleted or sliced, tray packed and sold in supermarkets.
Fishermen on the North West of the Island around Barrouallie catch Blackfish (pilot whale). Most of the meat is cut into strips and sun dried on bamboo but a small portion is sold fresh. The blubber is boiled in vats and yields two by-products: Blackfish oil and Blackfish crisps, both of which are sold to the public locally.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
Role of fisheries in the national economyFisheries production in SVG has been relatively constant over the past decade. The contribution of fisheries to the economy has, however, declined marginally due to growth in other sectors.
Economic data on fisheries is generally lumped together with agriculture and forestry since they all fall under the same Ministry. Even when disaggregated, however, data from the fisheries does not reflect the true contribution of the fisheries sector to the socio-economic well-being of the country. Data from subsistence fisheries is not captured therefore not computed in the national socio-economic outlook. This includes using lines from rocks (day and night), small boats, fish traps and spear fishing. The contribution of the fisheries sector to the GDP and other economic indicators is therefore understated. Disaggregated data from the Government Statistical Department shows fisheries contributing 0.04% of the national GDP.
TradeThe value of fish imported into St. Vincent in 2014 was US$1.8 million compared to export value of US$ 0.94 million. The main fish and fish products imported included dried salted fish (cod), Salmon (smoked and fillet), and shrimp. The main import markets are the United States and Canada. In addition to fish for human consumption, there is import of fish in the form of pet food and aquarium fish from the Caribbean mainly Trinidad.
Fish is mainly exported to Martinique and the United States, primarily as fresh and frozen king fish, dolphin and tuna.
While fish trade is important in terms of food security (canned and salted fish are used during disasters and in the hurricane season), St. Vincent runs a trade deficit, where import exceeds it export by a ratio of 3:1.
Figure 2 Main Fish Types Imported in 2014. Unit in Pounds (Source: Government Fisheries Unit)
Food securityFish is an important protein source in the Vincentian diet second only to chicken. On average, domestic production of fish to the Vincentian market place meets the local demand and some is exported. In the high season, there is a surplus which is generally stored at sales outlets with cold storage facilities. Some fishers find additional storage outside of the market. The challenge with supply and demand in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of distribution. It is not unusual for there to be surplus fish at the Kingstown Fish Market or in Union Island and a shortage in a community to the North or in the center of the island.
The local supply is augmented by imports of salted cod, mackerel, smoked herring, frozen shrimp and fillet Sword Fish.
EmploymentSince the last fisheries census in 2002, the fishermen’s register has not been updated; best estimates put the number of fishers at over 3,000. There are four active community based fisher folk cooperatives, and one national fisher folk organization with a total membership of approximately 5,000; membership of fisheries cooperatives is not restricted to fisher folks. Fishers from the north eastern side of the island (Owia, Sandy bay and Fancy) are actively seeking membership in the national cooperative; there is no cooperative on the northeastern side of the island so there is need for these fishers to establish a community cooperative which will then become affiliated to the national cooperative. The Fisheries Division and the cooperatives collaborate in staging the annual fisherman’s day to foster comradery and promote fish and the fisheries industry.
Persons find employment in the fisheries industry as fishers, vendors, cleaners (scaling and gutting), market staff – clerical staff, cleaners and inspectors (quality control), while others in the hospitality industry do fish fries.
Rural developmentThe location of fisheries landing sites in St. Vincent form a ring around the oblong island. The fisher folks use these landing sites and in most cases the people consuming the fish, are from immediate communities. Fishing is the only source of income for many of these people and provides the bulk of their protein intake. Indeed in a communities like Barrouallie, fishing is more than just and occupation, it’s a celebration and the catch of a ‘black fish’ [short-finned pilot whale] (Globicephala macrorhynchus) is a community event. The black fish has a mini industry around it providing crisp, oil, fresh and dries meat to the community and the island as a whole.
Trends, issues and development
Constraints and opportunitiesThe fisheries sub-sector is challenged by a number of issues including; pressure on inshore fisheries, pollution of marine environment from land based activities, unsustainable methods of harvesting, safety and quality assurance for export markets and building the institutional, policy and legal frameworks of the sector, research and technical facilities and human resources. The development of marine protected areas such as the proposed South Coast Marine Park, present unique challenges such as stakeholder’s conflict and resource overuse. The development of the marine protected areas also provides avenues for the sub-sector to collaborate with other government, private sector and donor agencies in the acquisition of resources, expertise, and technical knowledge, which helps address some of the challenges of the sector
There are plans to migrate fishermen to larger boats by providing subsidies that facilitate the purchase of large commercial vessels capable of longer distances and longer stay at sea. This move is expected to reduce pressure on the inshore fisheries and provide better returns to fishing effort.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
Research, education and trainingResearchThe Biology and Research Unit of the Fisheries Division is small but active; its research capability is very limited due to lack of equipment and personnel. In 2011 the Unit carried out a reef survey supported by Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) and determined that reefs in SVG possess high fish diversity and complexity. Reef monitoring has since become a function of the Unit. In 2013 the Unit conducted a conch survey to determine the impact of fishing on the conch population. The survey result indicates that there is no overfishing of conch in SVG.
In 2013, the Unit obtained spatial maps of marine habitats, enabling them to strengthen community based fishing and support marine conservation.The Biology and Research Unit benefited from the work of Caribbean Regional Fisheries Management (CRFM) in the area of Research and Resource Assessment with emphasis on health of resource and management of information up to 2014. CRFM has taken the lead in development of fisheries aggregating devices (FAD) and black fin tuna management plans. It also trains fisheries staff to implement SPS control measures. Several research techniques and tools are used by the Research Unit. The conch survey in the Grenadines and the reef monitoring in the South Coast Marine Management Area (SMMA) used biophysical tools including transects, visual examination and arithmetic counting to assess the conditions of the reefs and fish population. Chemical analysis is routinely performed on water samples to provide data for an ongoing water quality assessment in the SMMA.
Education and trainingThe Quality Assurance and Product Development Unit of the Fisheries Division has three (3) sections, namely:
The Inspectorate is charged with quality assurance of fish and fish products. The Inspectorate staff receives training under the project ‘Better Training for Safer Food’ (BTSF). The methodology includes the development of a guide for on-board handling of fish, followed by training of fishers and fisheries staff in using the guide. Training is provided to meet Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements.The Fisheries Division is a member of the National Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (NAFSA) through which training for HACCP certification is done by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA).The laboratory is currently being upgrade to obtain CROSQ accreditation by 2017. The laboratory is seeking to perform chemical, physical and microbial test using ISO standard 17025.
In addition to training its staff, the Fisheries Division seeks assistance from local, regional, and international agencies to strengthen fisheries stakeholder organizations.
Foreign aidThe fisheries sector benefits from foreign aided provided by a number of national, regional and international sources.
Legal frameworkRegional and international legal frameworkInternational Agreements relevant to fisheries in St. Vincent and the Grenadines include: International Whaling Commission (IWC), International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora, UN Fish stocks Agreement, FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, FAO Agreement to promote compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Many of these agreements have reporting requirements relating to obligations that the country is required to comply with. In order for this to be effective, the Fisheries Department must monitor and track all relevant activities in the EEZ. This is a challenge for the Fisheries Department given the size of the EEZ and the resources provided to the Department. For this reason, there are some gaps and shortcomings in meeting these reporting requirements.
The fisheries Department is assisted by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS) – OECS Fisheries Management and Development-,and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Regional and international legal frameworkThe following legislations are in place to assist with the management and development of the Fisheries Sector:
CRFM’s TENTH ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC MEETING -2014. NATIONAL REPORT – ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES, CHERYL JARDINE-JACKSON & KRIS ISAACS.
Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector, Project Document, 2015.
Estimated Data on Fish Landed by Species and Marketed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the Period January to December 2014, Fisheries Department.
Population and Housing Census, 2012, Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Development Plan 2013-2025.
Budget Report 2014, Government Statistical Department .
INTERNET LINKSThe Fisheries Division falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation. It can be accessed by the following links; http://www.gov.vc (click agriculture then select fisheries) or email email@example.com .
FAO Thematic data bases