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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 briefPrepared: June, 2018.

Over the past decade the fishing industry in Saint Lucia has evolved from one that was essentially artisanal to a more commercial fishery, harvesting a tropical multispecies stock. Total capture production in Saint Lucia was estimated at 2 097 tonnes in 2016. Over 50 percent of annual fish catches comprises offshore migratory pelagics such as dolphin fish, wahoo and tuna and tuna-like species. Flying fish forms an important but variable component of the catch, and a multitude of shallow reef and coastal pelagic species are also key components of the catch. In  2016, over 822 undecked, powered  vessels were reported as Saint Lucia fleet with all but 7 of these under 12 meters, length overall.  The fishery sector in 2017 provided direct employment to 3 328 people in marine fishing, of which 182 were women, while 114 people (20% women) directly employed in aquaculture. Moreover, the small-scale fishery sector contributes significantly to poverty reduction and food security. Aquaculture is still in embryonic stage with only 27 tonnes produced in 2016.  Annual per caput supply is estimated at about 23.7 kg in 2013. In addition, fish imports are needed to complement domestic production and to satisfy the demand from the tourism sector. In 2016, imports of fish and fishery products were estimated at USD 8.9 million, while fishery exports continued to be negligible. 
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data – St. Lucia

Shelf area 593 km2

Sea Around Us


Length of continental coastline 158 km

World by Map:


Fisheries GVA (2012) 0,8% of National GDP Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM): Statistics and Information Report 2012
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics


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- St. Lucia

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2015 2016 2017
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 2.60 4.80 28.02 2.55 2.97 3.18 3.33
  Aquaculture 3.00 26.00 0.09 0.14 0.11 0.11
  Capture   2.60 1.80 2.02 2.46 2.83 3.07 3.21
    Marine 2.60 1.80 2.02 2.46 2.83 3.07 3.21
FLEET(thousands boats) 0.99 0.62 0.77 0.82
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 sector

St Lucia is a small island country in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. The island is volcanic in origin, resulting in a narrow shelf area compared to the extent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Its fisheries are largely artisanal and subsistence based, with an industrial element beginning in the 1990s with the introduction of longliners and larger boats capable of exploiting the offshore pelagic fisheries.

Queen conch is produced in great quantities and is destined to the local market. Mahi mahi is also an important fishery product, together with some tuna production. Unlike other Caribbean countries, Saint Lucia is producing very few lobsters.

The domestic production is supplemented by imports, which account for about half of the domestic consumption of fish. Tourism is also an important consumer of fishery products in the country.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileDomestic production of fish is stable at about 2 000 tonnes. Conch is the main species caught in recent years. The increase in production of this species is notable, up from 150 tonnes five years ago to 500 tonnes at present. As the country is not exporting any conch, its production is not covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but the important increase in production should stir up some apprehension about the sustainability of the resource.

Common mahi mahi and Marine fish not specified also accounts for about one quarter of production each. Tuna species, mainly yellowfin and skipjack, represent one fifth of production, leaving very little for other species. It can be noted that no lobster production is recorded.

Landing sitesThe western coast is characterized by a narrow, steep, insular shelf in contrast to the eastern coast, which has a fairly extensive, less steep, insular shelf. The southern coast has a wider shelf area extending southwards. Nearshore fishing on the island takes place along the coastline within 7 miles from shore, whilst reef and large pelagic fishing occurs within 10 miles. The length of the coastline extends for 158 km. Two important fishing banks with a total shelf area of 14 km2 are located a few miles south and northeast of the island. The island marine ecosystems are comprised of a full range of tropical marine and coastal habitats including estuaries, mangroves, lagoons, sea grass beds, fringing, patch and barrier reefs, deep bank reefs and open oceans.

Fishing practices/systemsThe fleet has a range of vessel classes but is dominated by open fibreglass pirogue and traditional dig out canoes. Vessel sizes range from 3-25 m. Because of the multi species nature of the fishery, most fishing vessels are usually equipped with a combination of hand lines, trolling lines, nets and pots. Fishing trips are usually one-day trips ranging from 3-8 hours durations on average. All commercial vessels are required to be registered and are inspected and licensed annually for safety and navigational equipment. The number of vessels is increasing, in 2016 some 822 boats were recorded, which compares to 700 in 2012. Out of these vessels, only 7 were bigger than 12 m.

Pelagics are captured using surface trolling by hand and, to an increasing extent, mechanized midwater longlines. Fish traps capture reef fishes. Gillnets are also used to capture bottom fish, and coastal pelagics are brought ashore using encircling nets (gillnets and seines).

The near shore fisheries mainly uses hand-hauled fish traps (wire mesh or bamboo hexagonal mesh Z-traps, locally known as "fish pots"). This fishery occurs in reef and shelf areas, usually in depths of less than 50 m. Alternatively, bottom set gillnets are becoming more common, and spearguns and handlines are also used. The vessels utilized include those used for pelagic fisheries, in addition to a number of smaller wooden vessels powered by smaller capacity engines. Most pot fishing occurs during the offseason for coastal pelagics (i.e. June to December yearly), although some landing sites, such as Gros Islet, Bannanes, Anse la Raye, Canaries, Soufriere and Savannes Bay, tend to focus on this fishery throughout the year.

The coastal pelagic fisheries are particularly important to communities along the west coast of the island, where large schools of coastal pelagic species (including jacks, ballyhoo and sardines) tend to congregate at certain times of the year. These fish are captured using encircling nets (beach seine and fillet nets) operated out of one or more canoes near to shore. Like the reef fish resource, the management unit for the coastal pelagics is also deemed to be the island shelf, except for the larvae, that are probably distributed at the level of the Eastern Caribbean. Mesh size restrictions are in place for the nets used in the fishery and the maximum length for the soak period is also restricted.

Main resourcesOver 65% of annual fish landings comprise offshore migratory pelagics such as mahi mahi, wahoo and tuna and tuna-like species, captured mainly between December and June each year. Flyingfish form an important but variable component of the catch, and a multitude of shallow reef and bank fish species and several coastal pelagic species are also key components of the catch.

Management applied to main fisheriesLobster, conch, sea urchin and turtles are protected by various management measure.

No person shall harm, give, receive from anyone, or at any time have in his possession, expose for sale, sell or purchase: (a) any lobster that is undersized; (b) any lobster carrying eggs; and (c) any lobster which is moulting. (2) No person shall(a) remove the eggs from a lobster, or have in his possession, or sell, or purchase a lobster from which the eggs have been removed; (b) spear, hook or attempt to spear a lobster; (c) sell any lobster that has been speared, hooked, or otherwise impaled; and (d) fish for, remove from the fishery waters, give, or at any time have in his possession, expose for sale, sell or purchase any lobster between the 30th day of April to the 1st day of September in every year, or as otherwise stated by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette and in a newspaper which is printed or circulated in the State. (3) In this Regulation (a) "lobster" includes the whole or any part of any lobster; (b) "undersized" means in relation to lobsters (i) less than 9.5 centimetres (3.75 ins.) in carapace length measured from the ridge at the base of the horns to the end of the carapace (back shell); or (ii) if the tail has been removed, a tail weight of less than 340 grammes (12 ounces).

Management measures include prohibiting the use of dynamite, noxious substances, SCUBA gear, trammel nets, and mesh sizes below a specified minimum. Currently, access to the fishery remains open, although the most productive reef areas are protected as actively management marine reserves and an attempt is being made to implement a limited entry system for this fishery.

Management objectivesSpecific fisheries management objectives are to maintain and/or restore the population of marine species, preserve rare or fragile ecosystems and habitats, and to protect and restore endangered marine and freshwater species amongst others.

Management measures and institutional arrangementsThe mission of the Department of Fisheries is to provide effective and efficient services in promoting sustainable development of Saint Lucia’s fisheries sector through participatory management and sustainable use of the fishery resources.

Fishing communitiesFishing communities are the backbone of the country. The employment opportunity provided by the fisheries sector is extremely important for the social equilibrium of the population of Saint Lucia.

Inland sub-sectorThere are no inland fisheries of commercial importance. The traditional fishery for local freshwater prawns (river crayfish) remains closed at present due to resource decline.

Aquaculture sub-sectorWith Saint Lucia’s marine fishing stocks having become overexploited, land-based aquaculture is becoming increasingly important as a means of increasing production of fish and prawn, and in stabilizing food security. In recent years, Saint Lucia has become the top aquaculture country in Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The government of Saint Lucia wishes to promote the development of aquaculture in order to provide citizens with a healthy source of protein, in line with its agricultural diversification policies. In 2015, the aquaculture production were 13 tonnes of tilapia and 10 tonnes of giant river prawn. In addition some algae culture is been carried out.

Recreational sub-sectorSports fishing is very popular in Saint Lucia, where the government implements a strict fish and release policy. A sport fishing charter usually includes a 30-foot boat with tracking devices, an experienced crew, fishing tackle, and bait. Due to the morphological formation of the island and the sea around, the sports fisher gets into deep water quickly, making deep sea fishing one of the most popular activities in Saint Lucia. The species caught include blue marlin, mackerel, barracuda, king fish, tuna, white marlin, dorado, wahoo, mahi mahi and other game fish

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationAll the fish landed domestically is consumed in fresh form, exports are almost nil. As in many other Caribbean countries, the local production is complemented with imported fish which is generally in dried and salted form. In addition to these traditional fishery products, imports are also used for the tourism sector.

Annual per capita supply is estimated at about 23.8 kg in 2013. About half of the fish consumption is coming from pelagic fish, which includes tuna, both in fresh form from the domestic fleet and in canned form from imports. Conch consumption is one of the highest in the Caribbean with more than 3 kg per capita.

Fish marketsThe fish marketing is organized through the state, in the Saint Lucia Fish Market Corporation. This entity has accumulated millions of dollars debt during the years of operation. In November 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided to merge this entity with the Saint Lucia Marketing Board, responsible for the marketing of agricultural products. The resulting new entity is funded through public/private partnership. Other Caribbean countries have successfully moved away from state control for fish marketing and from price control of fishery products.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyFisheries accounts for 0.8% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and for about 25% of the agricultural GDP. These figures do not reflect well the social role of fisheries, very important in rural areas, where fishing is the only employment available.

TradeFish imports are needed to complement domestic production and to satisfy the demand from the tourism sector, while fishery exports continued to be negligible.

One of the main product imported is dried and salted fish. This includes salted cod, saithe, and herring. This product is mainly direct towards the local population. In recent years, canned tuna imports have become the main product imported. This product goes both to the tourism market and the local market. Frozen fish fillets include tilapia and pangasius, which are competing with the local tilapia production. Smoked herring represents a niche, mainly directed towards the local consumers.

Food securityFisheries play an important role as provider of food to the local population, but the importance of fish in food security has declined in recent years. Some thirty years ago, fishery products represented about one third of animal protein supply, at present the share is around 12%. Nevertheless it has to be considered that fish is one of the few food products available in the country that are produced locally. The industry provides a major portion of the fresh and frozen fish currently consumed in Saint Lucia for the local and tourism markets. The government continues to strive for self-sufficiency in fish and at present the bulk of imports are of exotic seafood (e.g., smoked salmon, shrimp, scallops) and smoked/salted cod and herring.

EmploymentThe fishery sector provides direct employment to 3 179 people in marine fishing (4% women) and 114 people (20% women) directly employed in aquaculture. About 50% of the labour is full time. About 120 people are working as fish vendors and processors. Although the sector thus employs a mere 1.2% of the labour force of the country, it has been able to sustain the livelihood of many families especially in the rural communities.

Rural developmentIn a situation where underemployment and unemployment are still pressing problems, the fishing industry is seen as an important vehicle for providing income and sustenance to rural coastal communities. Fishing is a way of life for many islanders in Saint Lucia.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesSaint Lucia faces a number of problems in developing aquaculture: (1) an inability to produce sufficient quantities of fish fingerlings and prawn fry in support of a general increase in production; (2) a lack of aquaculture facilities and technology to stabilize supplies of fish and prawn fry; (3) a lack of aquaculture management skills among Saint Lucian fish farmers.

Compared with other countries in the OECS, the fisheries of Saint Lucia are well managed, in fact the country's experience with co-management dates back from the last century. Overall the fish resources are not overexploited.

The statistical system of data collection for fisheries is well established and well working despite budgetary constraints.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe Government’s main efforts concentrate on the following issues:
development of the fishing industry in terms of modernization of fisheries infrastructure, fishing vessels and the use of improved fishing gear and methods;promotion of self-sufficiency through increased marine and aquaculture production;advancement of the social and economic status of fishers and their families; improvement of the nutrition of the nation through the provision of increased volumes of production.

Research, education and trainingResearchThe Department of Fisheries has a research and resource management unit which coordinates a variety of resource assessment, monitoring and management programmes, including fisheries data collection; coral-reef monitoring; mangrove, reef and seagrass management; lobster assessment; sea urchin co-management; marine management areas; marine reserves; and cetacean assessment. Constraints include manpower and financial limitations.

Foreign aidLike all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members, Saint Lucia has been receiving technical assistance from the CARICOM Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). Saint Lucia also received technical and financial assistance from the Government of Japan to improve port, landing, marketing and distribution facilities. It is foreseen that the Fish Complex in Anse la Raye and the aquaculture facility at Union, established with foreign assistance, will contribute to increased production in the coming years. France and Canada also have provided assistance to the fisheries sector in recent years.

Saint Lucia participates in the Caribbean Fisheries Co-Management Project (CARIFICO), which started in in 2012 and has been implemented since 2013 by CRFM in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) across six OECS member states.

Saint Lucia also participates together with 6 neighbouring Eastern Caribbean countries in the Climate Change Adaption in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH), financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). There are three project components: increased awareness and understanding of climate change impacts and vulnerability for effective climate change adaptation in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, improved resilience of fisherfolk and coastal communities and aqua culturists, and climate change adaptation mainstreamed in multilevel fisheries governance. The project will be implemented from 2016-2020.

Taiwan Province of China implemented in 2017 an aquaculture development project, the project activities which included establishing an aquaculture centre, including a hatchery, to supply sufficient numbers of tilapia fingerlings and prawn fry to farmers. In 2018 Taiwan Province of China started a new project “the Rehabilitation of the Praslin and Savannes Bay Fisheries Facilities”, which includes the construction of a boat ramp to facilitate landings as well as a washroom facility for enhanced processing and quality of fish products for consumption.

Institutional frameworkThe Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives is the government entity responsible for fisheries in Saint Lucia.

Legal frameworkThe Fisheries Act, No. 10 of 1984, and the Fisheries Regulations, SI No. 9 of 1994, form the basis of law related to fisheries development and management. These two instruments relate to fisheries access agreements, local and foreign fishing licensing, fish processing establishments, fisheries research, prohibited fishing gears and methods, marine reserves and fishing priority areas, fisheries enforcement, and specific restrictions for certain utilized resources (conch, lobster, sea urchin, freshwater shrimp, cetaceans, turtles and marine algae).

Regional and international legal frameworkSaint Lucia has actively supported regional fisheries management initiatives at the level of the OECS, CARICOM and the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC), and sees appropriate representation at the level of International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)and the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as critical to the advancement of this fishery.


CARIFICO Caribbean Fisheries Co-Management Project
CARICOM Caribbean Community
CC4FISH Climate Change Adaption in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
CLME Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem
CRFM Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
EEZ Economic Exclusive Zone
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GEF Global Environment Facility
ICCAT International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
IWC International Whaling Commission
JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency
ins inches
kg kilogrammes
km kilometre
m metre
OECS Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
WECAFC Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission

Additional information

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