- % Contribution to GDP: 1.5% (2004) est.
- Fishing Area: Shelf (116 550 sq. km.), EEZ (64 000 sq. km.)
- Fishermen: 9,300 (Joint FAO/DOF 1995 Fisheries Census), 95% fishermen, 5% employed in Buying Stations and Processing Facilities. Estimated Employment 2004: 10,426
- Landing Estimates: 5 128mt/US$84.7 million (2004)
- Fish Exports: 2 977mt/US$94.8 million (2004)
- Fish Vendors: 17 (2004)
- Fish Processors: 15 (2004)
- Fish Exporters: 11(2004)
- Subsidies: Duty free concessions on fishing boats, bonefishing skiffs, outboard engines, diesel engines, materials for fish pots/traps and assembled traps, freezing units and insulation for fishing vessels, reverse osmosis and ice making machines for fishing vessels and navigational equipment.
Note: Rate of Exchange – B$1 = US$1
1. The commercial fishing industry of The Bahamas is based primarily on its shallow water banks, principally the Little Bahama Bank and the Great Bahama Bank. Other shallow water bank areas are also found adjacent to several of the southeastern islands.
2. Results of the 1995 Fisheries Census indicated the Bahamian fishing fleet consists of over 4 000 fishing vessels ranging in size from 3.1m to 30m of which 600 are over 6.1m. The smaller vessels are the actual fishing power of the fleet and in this regard in excess of 1 500 of them work in conjunction with the larger fishing vessels. Only fishing vessels above 6m are required by law to be licensed to engage in commercial fishing. Three hundred and twenty-one (321) fishing vessels were licensed to engage in commercial fishing in The Bahamas during CY2004.
3. There are five main categories of gear used for fishing. They include nets, hook & line, impaling gear (Hawaiian sling and spear), wire pots and wooden traps and casitas/condominiums and hooks. The primary method and gear used for catching crawfish is diving, in many instances using an air compressor to enable the diver/fisher to breathe whilst under water, and using a Hawaiian sling to propel a spear to impale the animal. More recently, fishers have been utilizing “casitas/condominiums”, which are aggregating devices designed to attract the crawfish to its dark environment.
4. In CY2004, total fishery product production in The Bahamas was 11 360 metric tons (mt). Total landings was 5 128mt valued at B$84.7 million, the difference in weight between production and landings resulting primarily from the fact most crawfish are tailed at sea and the head, which represents two thirds the weight of the animal, is discarded.
5. Frozen crawfish tails accounted for 60% of total fishery product landings and 86% of the total value of all fishery product landings in CY2004. The value of frozen crawfish tails accounted for 97% of total fishery product and resource exports from The Bahamas during the same period. Fishery products refer to edible marine produce, while fishery resource refers to non edible products/resources.
6. In CY2004, scalefish landings totaled 1 313mt and represented 7% of the total value of all fishery product landings. Snappers accounted for 49% of all scalefish landings with a total value of B$2.7 million.
7. In CY2004, the conch export quota was approved at 107mt. Six (6) special export licences to export the product were issued. Total exports amounted to 97mt. All exports were to the US.
8. Sport fishing is a major tourist attraction for The Bahamas and not considered commercial. This is particularly true in the Family Islands where a significant percentage of stopover visitors arrive by boat. Besides tourists, sport fishing is also a popular activity for Bahamians. The main targeted species are Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Wahoo, Dolphin (mahi-mahi), Tunas and Bonefish.
9. Fishing for Nassau Grouper in The Bahamas was prohibited during the month of January 2004. Such fishing will be prohibited again from 15 December 2004 to 15 February 2005 as a part of the Government of The Bahamas’ approach to improving the management of the fishery.