Belize offers an ideal marine environment that has bolstered continued growth and diversification in the fisheries and aquaculture industry. Belize’s unique geographical location and close proximity to major market destinations, offers a multitude of key advantages for investment. Being located only 2 hours away from the US and other key Central American and Caribbean markets has enabled the industry to supply fresh products on a weekly basis. This continues to provide many benefits to the industry’s continued development allowing Fisheries to rank 4th in income earnings contributing up to 3% to Belize’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture industry in Belize also benefits from ideal climatic conditions with mean monthly maxima air temperatures ranging from 33° C / 91° F in the summer to 28° C / 82° F in the winter, and mean monthly minima temperatures ranging from 16° C / 61° F in the winter to 24° C / 75° F in the summer. Warm sea water temperatures off the coast also open the doors for many investment opportunities in the industry with Belize being sub-divided into two (2) climatic systems with sub-tropical conditions in the northern lowlands and central inland areas, and tropical conditions in the southern and coastal areas. This increases the prospect for product diversification.
Currently, the Fisheries and Aquaculture industry employs 1.7% of the labour force in Belize, totalling approximately 2,538 individuals with a multitude of indirect employment opportunities (2016). Presently, capture fisheries species include Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, Sea Cucumber and Finfish; while culture species include Pacific White Shrimp, Nile Tilapia, Cobia (mariculture) and emerging opportunities in seaweed farming. Belize’s main export markets for Fisheries products include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, CARICOM as well as markets in Asia and Europe.
Although the industry has experienced fluctuations in the Shrimp Industry recently, the Statistical Institute of Belize’s (SIB) report for shrimp exports for January and February 2017 has seen an estimated BZD $2 million dollar increase in exports over 2016. The increase in exports mirrors the rebounding and growth of the shrimp industry which directly employs over 1,400 Belizeans – mostly including women in rural areas who collectively earn approximately BZD $7 million dollars in income. Apart from shrimp farming, Belize has also grown in tilapia and seaweed farming with opportunities that exist to produce and export snapper, grouper, red drum, octopus and sea cucumber among other Fisheries commodities.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture industry in Belize holds several opportunities for investment including but not limited to the following:
- Marine Cage Farming Systems – which are systems within the inner Barrier Reef Lagoon that benefits from major protection from hurricanes due to the various cayes and reef formations in the surrounding areas.
- Earthen Embankment Ponds – used to accommodate aquaculture ventures along the coastal plain as well as inland.
- Freshwater Cage Farming – used for inland aquaculture developments
- Raft Culture / Rope Culture – for oyster and seaweed farming
- Seaweed Farming – a valuable commodity towards fisheries diversification, fetching a premium price per pound of dried seaweed both in the local and export markets.
- Sea Cucumber Farming – a product in high demand with popularity in Asia stemming from the dried product’s unique components that serve different applications in food and medicine.
- Value Addition for Fisheries Commodities – these include value added fisheries products such as “ready to cook,” development of fish feed, or applications in cosmetics through bio prospecting.
For more details on investment opportunities in Belize’s Fisheries and Aquaculture industry, please feel free to contact our team at BelizeINVEST, a unit of BELTRAIDE!
14 Orchid Garden St.
City of Belmopan