Volume 63

Long and Short Term Economic Drivers of Overexploitation in Honduran Coral Reef Fisheries due to Their Dependence on Export Markets.

Box, S.
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Date: November, 2010

Pages: 43-51

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

City: San Juan

Country: Puerto Rico


Improvements in international trade routes have connected rural fishing communities to international markets; this has significantly altered the supply and demand dynamics of small-scale fisheries for many Caribbean coastal and island communities. The current study examines the economics of a small fishing community in the Bay Islands of Honduras, to assess how connecting the community to international markets in 1992 has affected fish price structure, fishing effort, and profit shares. The study brought together data from the purchasing records of the main fish buyer in the community, fisheries landing records, export records for the main fish exporter in Honduras and import records for the United States. The fishery records show the “classic” reductions in landed catches and export of grouper species over the past twenty years. Importantly, the study found that the price per pound paid to fishermen for groupers, snappers and other coral reef fish has not changed in local currency (Lempira) since 1992. This is significant as the Lempira has more than halved in value against the dollar over the same time period, whilst the costs of fishing, especially fuel, has risen on average by 6% per annum, as has the cost of living. In consequence the profit margins of local fishermen have continued to fall, pushing continual increased effort to maintain the same level of income. The inabilities of fishermen to set their sale price in relation to their fishing costs and the continual shift in profit share from fishermen to exporters over the time period are important causes of escalating effort and the overexploitation of coral reef fisheries in Honduras.

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