Over the past decades, the fishing industry in Grenada has evolved from one that was essentially artisanal to a more commercialized fishery, harvesting a tropical multispecies stock. Today, the fisheries sector has become a major source of employment and income, a significant contributor to food supply and food security, and a foreign exchange earner. The fisheries sector contributed 31 percent of the agricultural GDP and 1.5 percent of the national GDP in 2012.
In 2014 annual catches reported to FAO amounted to 2 800 tonnes. About 70 percent of the reported landings are of tuna and tuna-like fishes, most notably yellowfin and blackfin tunas and Atlantic sailfish. Dolphinfish, red hind, and parrotfishes were also landed in relatively large quantities. Catches of Caribbean spiny lobster in 2014 were reported at 31 tonnes, well below the peak catches of over 72 tonnes in 1999 but on an increasing trend in comparison to previous years. There has been no reported commercial aquaculture production in Grenada for the last decade.
In 2012 there were about 3250 fishermen, 86 percent of them full-time. In 2012 the fleet was composed of 904 fishing boats with 90 percent motorized. In the last decade and a half, outboard motors have become very common, although they have been found to be expensive to operate compared to boats powered by in-board diesel engines. During the last few years, successful attempts were made to expand large pelagic fisheries, and this has led to a growing number of longline boats. The secondary sector involves 70 vendors, 13 boat builders, 5 exporters with plant facilities and 5 exporters.
Annual per-capita fish consumption in Grenada was estimated at 28.7 kg in 2011. The fish catch in Grenada is mainly marketed fresh, fresh on ice and, to a lesser extent, frozen. There are six main market centers on the island of Grenada and one on Carriacou. Seasonal supply, species preference and the limited buying power of the consumers affect fish marketing. Import levels reflect certain traditional preferences for processed fish. A part of the production is exported intra-regionally to islands such as Martinique and Guadeloupe, especially from the Island of Carriacou. In 2014, exports of fish and fish products were estimated at USD 7.6 million and imports at USD 3.2 million.
The Government of Grenada has implemented a policy aiming to develop the fisheries sector and to increase its contribution to income, employment and foreign exchange earnings. The country is actively promoting the application of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in its fisheries management and is interested in the application of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF).
This sector is a major revenue earner and has enormous growth potential. Following strategies are being employed by the government to promote the sector.
- Review relevant policies and legislation
- Strengthen institutional framework for effective governance
- Improve collaboration with and among fishers
- Improve collection and analysis of data on catch
- Develop and implement a plan to manage fisheries sector
- Provide estimates of conch biomass on the Grenadian shelf
- Develop National Action Plans for sea birds, turtles and sharks
- Develop monitoring strategy of the shark fishery
- Conduct an assessment of beach seine fishery and improve conservation
- Develop and implement a training programme for fishers in sustainable fisheries techniques
A shift in the approach of government towards fisheries management was evident, as Grenada, along with other countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, embarked on a program in 1986, with legal assistance from the FAO, to enact a program of harmonized fisheries management legislation. The general fisheries policy focuses on the development of the offshore fleet (Finlay and Rennie 1998).
The government office is responsible for aquaculture policy-making, planning and coordination of all developmental efforts directed towards the sector. One of the specific objectives of the Fisheries Resource Unit is to develop an aquaculture and freshwater resources assessment programme. The objective here is to promote the development of aquaculture projects/operations.
One of the specific objectives of the department is to develop an aquaculture and freshwater resources assessment programme. Currently, there exist local fish markets with cold storage facilities which support the marine catch. Given the small size of Grenada, the same facilities could also be utilized for marketing and processing local aquaculture products. The seasonal nature of the wild catch and frequent staging of cultural events provides market opportunities for aquaculture products.