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- Overview of the industry
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Agriculture, forestry and fisheries contribute 0.3% to Trinidad and Tobago’s GDP of which fisheries is about 10%, or 0.0.3% of the GDP (2008). The fisheries sector comprises activities in marine fisheries, aquaculture, inland fisheries and an ornamental fish trade. The sector is mainly artisanal but also includes semi-industrial and industrial fleets. The marketing and selling of fish is undertaken in a very basic manner, with most of the fish marketed fresh and sold directly by the fishermen on the beach to private buyers/middlemen or to consumers. Shrimp constitute about 40% of the value of all fishery exports. Trinidad and Tobago has an extensive shelf area of 20,400 km, and a total coastline of 540 km.
Exports are centred around the ornamental industry, which involves the capture of wild freshwater species which are then exported to CARICOM countries including Surinam, Canada, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the USA. The most commonly exported species include Hypostomus robinnii Corydoras aeneuss and Peocilla reticulate.
The fisheries is composed of marine, aquaculture, inland and ornamental fisheries, with the marine sub-sector dominating the sector, while the inland and aquaculture sub-sectors are more minor. The marine sector is predominantly composed of inshore artisanal fishing constituting about three quarters of all landings. There are estimated to be about 5100 artisanal fishermen, with the catch profile composed mainly of demersal and pelagic species. The semi-industrial fleet on the other hand largely targets tuna, swordfish and other billfish species; king fish, dolphin fish, tile fish, snappers species, groupers and sharks.
The inland fisheries sub-sector is small and makes little if any contribution. The few who do practice may capture tilapia species and cascadura in the flood plains. The aquaculture sub-sector is practiced at the subsistence and semi-commercial levels, but there are only estimated to be 53 farmers, of which 3 of some significance. The primary species farmed include tilapia species, as well as both indigenous and introduced species.
Trinidad and Tobago is committed to the sustained development and management of its marine resources and the protection of its ecosystems. Trinidad and Tobago is committed to the sustainable development and management of its marine resources and the protection of its ecosystems.
The Seafood Industry Development Company (SIDC) has been charged with the responsibility of promoting the long term development and competitiveness of the domestic Seafood Industry. The SIDC has stated that its mission is to develop “a modern, profitable, sustainable and environmentally mindful fish and fish processing industry”. The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Fisherfolk represents primary fisherfolk organisations. There are 34 primary fishing organizations in Trinidad and Tobago of which nine are fishing co-operatives and 25 are fishing associations.
The sector is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. However, the administration of the fisheries is administered by different bodies on the two islands. On Trinidad, the Fisheries Division under the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources is responsible for the operations of the Fisheries Division. On Tobago, the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, under the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and Environment of the Tobago House of Assembly is responsible for the sustained development and management of the fisheries sector in Tobago. The Fisheries Act 1916 and subsequent Amendments is the fundamental legislation governing the management of the national domestic fisheries.