Oistins. Friday night. Enjoying some delicious local fish? Bridgetown Fish Complex. Saturday morning. Choosing some fresh local fish to cook for Sunday lunch? Chances are that close to ¾ of the ‘local’ fish that you are buying and consuming is not even local. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 70% of seafood consumed in Barbados is imported.
The fisheries sector, one of the established sectors within the Blue Economy is important for employment, livelihoods and food security. Barbados has a history and culture strongly linked to fish with fishing and associated activities having been integral components of the social and economic fabric of Barbados for years. Approximately 8,000 people are employed in this sector which accounts for ~6% of the labour force with over 1,000 active fishing vessels. Bajans also eat a lot of fish with consumption per capita being very high in the Caribbean region.
However in recent years, annual catches have declined with marine capture production being between 2000 – 2500 tonnes of fish, with flying fish, dolphin fish and yellowfin tuna contributing to the majority of landings. Lower catches and high imports are not the only threats that the fishing industry faces. In addition, overfishing and unsustainable fishing, land based and marine sources of pollution, coastal development and loss of coral reefs, changes in climate and the introduction of invasive species such as lionfish and the influx of sargassum further threaten the fisheries sector.