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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
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. 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 briefPrepared: March, 2020.

Bermuda (in full, the Islands of Bermuda) is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Though it is typically referred to in the singular, Bermuda consists of 181 islands; the largest of these islands is known as Main Island. Bermuda's largest economic sectors are offshore insurance, reinsurance, and tourism. It has a subtropical climate and lies in the hurricane belt and thus is prone to related severe weather; however, it is somewhat protected by a coral reef and by its position at the north of the belt, which limits the direction and severity of approaching storms. Bermuda, and offshore banks less than 200 m in depth, provide a total fisheries area of approximately 1,000 km. The fisheries of Bermuda are primarily for local consumption and may be classed as artisanal, although technologically advanced. Historically, fishers have accessed shallow inshore waters and have targeted mainly reef fishes, with serranids (groupers) dominating the catch. In 2018, just over 300 marine fishers were reported, landing a catch of 350 tonnes in 2018. Imports amount to USD 16.2 millions, and exports to USD 25 000.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Bermuda

    Source
Shelf area 1,140 km2 http://www.seaaroundus.org
Length of continental coastline 103 Km http://world.bymap.org
Fisheries GDP (year) N/A  
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

 Source

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 2020. 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 – Bermuda

      1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.28 0.32 0.31
  Aquaculture ...
  Capture 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.28 0.32 0.31
    Inland ...
    Marine 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.28 0.32 0.31
                     
FLEET (thousands boats) 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8
                     
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.

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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 sectorBermuda, located in the western part of the central North Atlantic (32o17’N, 64o46’W), consists of more than 100 islands (total land area ~ 50 km2), forming the emergent top of a seamount. The remainder of this broad seamount consists of a geological platform of several hundred square kilometres of coral reefs with a lagoon-like area on the central platform. Bermuda is the most northerly location of reef building corals and coral-algal reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean. Bermuda, and offshore banks less than 200 m in depth, including Argus and the Challenger Banks, provide a total fisheries area of approximately 1 000 km2.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileHistorically, fishers have accessed shallow inshore waters and have targeted mainly reef fishes, with serranids (groupers) dominating the catch. Traditionally, groupers were marketed to hotels and restaurants. As serranids became depleted in the late 1970s, and in line with correspondingly tightened regulations, efforts shifted first to deeper waters, primarily targeting two species of lutjanids, Etelis oculatus and Pristipomoides macrophthalmus. As this fishery, too, was rapidly depleted, fishing effort shifted more to pelagic species.

Overall catches are declining, due to overfishing, and stringent fishing rules. On the other hand, costs for fishing are increasing, which makes the business not very economical. As a result, fewer fishers register every year. Landings are around 350 tonnes.

Landing sitesMany landings sites exist in Bermuda. In the Fisheries Regulation 2010, fish landing is defined as follows: “Fish will be considered “landed” if they are within the following designated areas: Sinky Bay, Hungry Bay, Devonshire Bay, Castle Harbour (North of Castle and Nonsuch Islands, all bays and waters west of a line running from Gunner Pt., St. David’s and Gates Fort, St. George’s (this includes St. George’s Harbour, Great Bay, Cocoa Bay and Dolly’s Bay), Coot Pond, Ferry Reach (South of the Railway pylons), Bailey’s Bay (South of Bay Island), Beanie’s Bay, Burchall Cove, Flatts Inlet (East of Gibbet’s Island), Harrington Sound, Devonshire Dock, all bays and waters west of a line running from Cobbler’s Island, Spanish Point and Commissioner’s Pt., Dockyard (this includes Great Sound, Little Sound, Boss’s Cove, Mills Creek and Hamilton Harbour), all bays and waters south of a line running from Dockyard Point or Greys Bridge to Kings Point in Sandys Parish (to include Mangrove Bay), all bays and waters south of a line running from Kings Point in Sandys Parish to Daniel’s Island, Sandys Parish (this includes Long Bay), all bays and waters south of a line running from Daniel’s Island, Sandys Parish to Gunpoint, Sandys Parish (this includes Ely’s Harbour)”.



Fishing practices/systems10Trap fisheries and diving target lobster, with special traps where fish can escape, while lobster are caught. Some spear fishing is carried out for demersal fish, however it must be conducted in areas on nautical mile from the baselines and is prohibited in protected areas. As a result, restrictions prevent spear – fishing in any bays, harbours or shores of Bermuda. Line fishing is a common fishing practice among the artisanal fishers.

Main resourcesHistorically, abundant predatory fish such as groupers and snappers remain at critically low numbers on Bermuda’s reefs based on international standards.

There is also some concern about the status of the spiny lobster population, particularly in the shallow areas closer to shore. Bermuda’s lobsters are a resource shared between the recreational lobster divers and the commercial lobster trap fishermen. Although commercial fishers operate in both deep and shallow water, the recreational divers can only catch lobsters in areas shallow enough for free-diving. Lobster catch has declined from about 50 tonnes last decade to 25 tonnes in 2018.

Management applied to main fisheriesThe Bermudan fisheries management is done enforcing several measures, which include minimum sizes, closed seasons, prohibition of certain fishing gears, etc.

Management objectivesThe management objectives are not clearly spelt out in the legal instruments nor in the mission statement by the government offices.

Management measures and institutional arrangementsThis fishing industry is considered a limited entry fishery, where fishermen are required by law to submit statistics for every fishing trip. In order to maintain their commercial fishing license they are required to make a minimum of one hundred fishing trips a year.

The practice of using nets within Bermuda’s waters is prohibited in protected areas as well as Bermuda’s exclusive economic zone. The exception to this rule is in the practice of capturing bait fish such as; rush fry, blue fry, herring, anchovies, half beaks, jacks (except pompano), yellow tail snapper, mackerel, and flying fish.

A cap of 450 recreational lobster divers will be in place for the 2018-19 season, a reduction from the 500 in the previous season, when only 412 lobster divers applied. The lobster season opens on 1st September. In addition to the reduction in lobster diver licenses, the commercial trap fishery will have one less participant, meaning that there will be 27 trap fishermen this season.

The following management regulations are in place for P. argus in Bermuda: It is illegal to harvest or be in possession of lobsters: less than 92 mm (3.6 inch) carapace length; during the closed season: 1 April to 31 August; with eggs; using any gear type other than that for which the fisher is licensed: commercial-standard traps only, recreational-lobster noose only. It is illegal to wring lobster tails at sea, therefore, all lobsters must be landed whole. Recreational lobster divers may only take two lobsters per day. Area restrictions apply to both commercial and recreational fishers, however, former spatial separation between these two user groups is no longer maintained. Imported lobsters are inspected for compliance with regulations. Lobster tails must have a minimum weight of 336 g (12 oz). Both commercial and recreational fishers are required to submit catch and effort statistics for each fishing trip. There is, however, no systematic validation of the accuracy of the data provided from this self-reporting system.

Bermuda’s seasonally protected marine areas, known as the “hind grounds”, are closed to all fishing activities as from 15 April to 14 August. These areas provide sanctuary for hinds and groupers when they gather to spawn during the warm summer months. The two large protected areas, one to the southwest and one to the northeast of the island, contain square-shaped extended closure areas, which are closed to fishing until 29 November each year. These seasonally protected areas have existed in various forms since the 1970s and, together with other fisheries regulations, are part of efforts to help conserve local fish stocks, and protect them from overfishing.

There are minimum sizes established for the main finfish species (see Annex 1). Spearfishing licence conditions: Only pole spears are permitted. Spearguns or Hawaiian slings may not be used in Bermuda, spearfishing while using scuba is illegal, spearfishing is not permitted within one nautical mile of the shore of any of the islands of Bermuda. This prohibits spearfishing in any of the harbours, bays or sounds and along the South Shore. Any person found swimming within one nautical mile of the shore of any of the islands of Bermuda while carrying a spear shall be presumed to be attempting to take fish. In addition to the general restrictions on taking fish, there is a bag limit of two fish of any one species per person per day, spearing of lobsters is prohibited, fish taken by spearfishing may not be sold, any person found with a spear and scuba gear in his possession, either in a vessel or on his person while swimming, shall be presumed to be attempting to take fish, any fish found in a vessel in which scuba gear is being carried or any fish found in the possession of any person equipped with scuba gear shall be presumed to have been taken in contravention of the Fisheries Regulations until the contrary is proved.

There is a year-round catch limit of one black grouper per boat or per person fishing from shore within a 24 hour period for all fishers.

Fishing communitiesThe decline in numbers of fishers has an impact on fishing communities, which now survive due to tourists and recreational fisheries, rather than due to commercial fisheries. It is the end of a century old tradition.

Inland sub-sectorNo inland fishery exists in the country.

Aquaculture sub-sectorNo aquaculture exists in the country, and no aquaculture activities are planned for the next years.

Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fishery is an important sector of the country’s economy.

Recreational lobster divers and spear-fishers must be registered and have to submit their statistics in order to get their license renewed. All foreign sports fishing vessels must have a sports fishing vessel licence to fish in Bermuda waters. A Bermuda sports fishing vessel licence identification flag must be flown on the starboard side of the vessel whenever it is engaged in any fishing activities. (Flags must be returned to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources before departure from Bermuda). Vessels may be inspected by officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at any time. Sports fishing vessels may engage in offshore pelagic fishing only. Fishing on the Bermuda platform is not permitted at any time. Owners/operators are required to record and submit catch and release data on their fishing. The landing of any blue or white marlin must be reported to the Marine Management Section as soon as the fish has been boated so that the fish can be inspected by Fisheries Officers. However, efforts must be made to release all fish that are not of a size to be potential record breakers. Fish catches cannot be sold or bartered. A foreign sports fishing vessel licence does not permit a vessel to be chartered or offered for charter in Bermuda waters.

Post-harvest sector

Fish utilizationThe fish landed is mainly used in fresh form.

Fish marketsThe major factor driving local fisheries is the number of tourists who visit the island, as the growth in the tourism industry significantly increased demand for local fish.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector

Role of fisheries in the national economyThe role of commercial fisheries in the national economy is very low and decreasing.

Trade

Exports of fishery products from Bermuda are nil. Imports of fishery products are relatively high, about 2 000 tonnes in product weight, which corresponds to about 3 000 tonnes in live weight equivalent, thus several times the local fish production. Main products imported are canned tuna, pangasius fillets, tilapia fillets, salmon (all product types) and shrimp. Most of the imports are going to the tourist industry.
Food securityThe fisheries of Bermuda are primarily for local consumption. Cases of ciguatera poisoning were reported in 2018. The health ministry issued a warning about the illness. Ciguatera fish poisoning is caused by toxins from microscopic marine plants that build up in large predatory fish. Ciguatera is relatively new issue in Bermudas fisheries.

EmploymentThe number of fishermen has remained stable at around 300, while the number of licences handed out has declined from 200 in 2012 to 176 in 2016. In 2016, the total hours at sea per licence figure reached a five-year low of 385, compared to 429 in 2012.

Rural developmentThe importance of fisheries in rural development has been decreasing over the past years, and this trend is likely to continue in the future.

Trends, issues and development

Constraints and opportunitiesToday, the ‘lionfish’ invasion is a topic of great concern, as this species has decimated marine life of the Caribbean and now considered a major threat to the marine ecosystem in Bermuda. Spearfishing is allowed for lionfish, in an attempt to eliminate this invasive species. Lionfish is a good food fish.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesNo specific development policy exists for fisheries or aquaculture in the country.

Research, education and trainingResearchBermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis & Monitoring (BREAM) is carrying out studies and research and the status of the Bermudian reef fish population.

Education and trainingThere is no specific education or training for fishers or fish farmers in the country.

Foreign aidNo foreign aid projects are implemented in the country.

Institutional framework

The Marine Resources Division, part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under the Ministry of Home Affair has responsibility for the management and regulation of fisheries, marine conservation, marine heritage, terrestrial conservation and nature reserve management, pollution control, agriculture, animal and plant management and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. The Marine Resource Division receives for commercial fishing vessels licensing, for commercial fishers, provides advice to the Commercial Fisheries Council (CFC), issue recreational lobster and spearfishing licences, etc. The Marine Resources Division has one Senior Fishery Resources Officer, one Fisheries Resource Officer and one Fishery Extension Officer. Fisheries Enforcement is under the Department of Environmental Enforcement. The Enforcement Division has one Head Fisheries Warden and four Fisheries Warden officers.

CFC consists of eight members appointed by the Minister, five of whom are commercial fishers. The other three are other marine resource users. CFC is responsible for issuing licences to commercial fishers and assessing eligibility to benefits for fishers.

Legal frameworkThe main legal regulations for Bermuda are the Fisheries Act from 1972, the Fisheries Regulations 2010, Fisheries Protected Areas Order 2000, Fisheries (Protected Species) Order 1978, and Fisheries (Use of Fishing Nets) Order 1990.

The Fisheries Act 1972 governs fishing operations within Bermuda fishing zone. It consists of 22 sections and 2 Schedules. The Act begins with a list of definitions (sect. 1). Section 3 provides for the annual appointment of the Marine Resources Board which shall advise the Minister on matters relating to this Act and to the protection and use of the marine natural resources and their habitat. The Third Schedule annexed to the Act regulates the constitution and procedures relating to the Board. For the purposes of protection and conservation of marine living resources, the Minister may by order declare any area of the waters within the exclusive fishing zone to be a protected area (sect. 4), or may prohibit the taking of fish or certain methods of fishing (sect. 5). Import and export of fish are subject to the obtaining of a licence (sect. 6) as are commercial and scientific fisheries exercised by any person on board of a foreign vessel (sect. 7). Foreign vessels engaged in sport fishing, however, are not subject to such an authorisation but shall first report at the port of entry in Bermuda (sect. 7(2)(b)). Section 8 sets out the powers vested in fisheries officers in order to enforce the provisions of this Act. Sections 9 and 10 address the issues of custody and detention of vessels respectively. Section 13 sets out the matters upon which the Minister may make regulations for the promotion, development, improvement and protection of fisheries resources and the fishing industry. Penalties for subsequent conviction of same offence and penalty for possession of any prohibited article or fish are provided for under sections 14 and 17 respectively. Section 18 stipulates that nothing in this Act shall apply to any person authorized by a permit issued by the Minister to take, sell, purchase or possess fish or fish of a specified description, size or weight for the purpose of scientific research (sect. 18(a)) or aquaculture (sect. 18(f)). Lastly, the First Schedule regulates the issue of forfeiture.

Annexes

Acronyms

BREAM: Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis & Monitoring CFC: Commercial Fisheries Council

References

Luckhurst et. Al. (2003) Brief History of Bermudian Fisheries, and Catch Comparison between National Sources and FAO Records, Marine Resources Division Department of Environmental Protection.
Simon D. (2014) Bermuda’s Fishery Past, Present and Future, Master Thesis, Memorial University Marine Institute St. John’s Newfoundland, 77 p.

Additional information

Meetings & News archive

 

 
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