Volume 66

The Spear Fishery of Barbados

Simpson, N., H.A. Oxenford, D. Gill, and R. Turner
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Date: November, 2013

Pages: 135 – 139

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty six Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Corpus Christy

Country: USA


The spear fishery of Barbados is poorly documented and its contribution to the island’s fishing industry is relatively unknown due to the multitude of landing sites and informal sales of a diverse catch which has made monitoring very difficult. This study attempts to fill some of the many gaps in the documented knowledge of the spear fishery, particularly its importance in contributing to livelihoods, the distribution of fishing effort and the total annual landings of the reef fishery. Information was gathered through an initial scoping exercise followed by formal interviews with fishers, participant observation on fishing trips and measurements of a sub-sample of catches between June and September 2013. The spear fishery of Barbados comprises an estimated 110 active fishers, half of whom consider themselves to be commercial and the rest recreational. They fish on shallow nearshore reefs all around the island which they access from boats and by swimming from shore, by free diving and with the use of SCUBA gear. The concentra-tion of landing/operating sites is on the leeward west and southwest coasts, although the most heavily used reef areas are on the northwest and southeast coasts. The average stated mean catch of commercial spear fishers is twice that of recreational fishers, although their multispecies catch is very similar in species composition. Catches of both fisher groups are dominated by the parrotfish family. Both fisher groups fish year-round with some increase in trip frequency by commercial fishers during the summer months. A crude estimate of total annual landings by the spear fishery based on interview data is 152 mt, which is considerably more than the official records show for the entire reef fishery. The results of this study will contribute to on going efforts to understand the importance of the reef fishery and improve the sustainable management of the island’s reef resources.

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