The Oceans Economy and Trade Strategy project was developed to assist developing countries in realizing the full potential of oceans economy sectors. This report was prepared in consultation with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations and the Government of Belize. The overall aim of the report is to assess the marine fisheries sector, particularly for finfish; and seafood processing sectors for queen conch and spiny lobster, so as to facilitate the preparation of an Oceans Economy Trade Strategy for two sectors selected by Belize during a stakeholder workshop held in November 2018. Legal & institutional, and economic studies were conducted prior to the aforementioned stakeholder workshop in November 2018 where results provided additional context for the development of strategies and action plan for Belize in this report.
Belize’s fisheries sector has supported over 2,500 fishers directly and over 15,000 Belizeans indirectly (BFD, 2019). The fisheries and seafood processing sector also support the ever-growing tourism sector in Belize by supplying the restaurant and hotel industry with finfish, spiny lobster, and queen conch in addition to exporting large volumes of these products. In 2018,
Belize exported 1.8 million pounds of seafood product valuing at 18.6 million USD (SIB, 2019). Total production over the ten-year period has yielded steady catch of spiny lobster and queen conch which are now classified as mature fisheries, while the potential for deep sea fishing has long been identified as a potential commercial stock (BFD,2019). Therefore, the economic interests of the fisheries sector must be taken into account as we aim to maximize the benefits of Belize’s ocean bounty while maintaining ecosystem health.