Frame Survey Curaçao’s fishing fleet 2016
A brief inventory of the current fishing capacity (frame survey) of the insular fishing fleet of Curacao was conducted. Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It lies in the southern Caribbean, approximately 60km off the coast of Venezuela.
Currently no systematic data on fishing intensity nor landings exists of the artisanal fisheries. This data is not only needed for domestic fisheries management purposes but will also contribute to nature conservation. In addition both the FAO as ICCAT have made data requests for the artisanal catches and catch composition to Curacao which cannot be adequately answered currently.
A frame survey was conducted (between September and December 2016) at all homeports and landing sites listed by the Curacao’ Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, whereby all vessels were counted and described up to a relevant number of characteristics, such as length, use of motors, sails etc. In addition to the frame survey, interviews were held with fishermen, to get some extra information about their vessels, gear and fishery.
In total 294 fishing vessels were recorded. 238 of these vessels were assessed as ‘in use’. Eight-five percent of the vessels (in use) were motorised – either with inboard motors (110) or with outboard motors (96). The 32 remaining vessels were propelled with oars. Most vessels were located in the two main harbours of the island: Caracasbaai and Piscadera. Most vessels (164 of 294) were smaller than 7m .
The data gathered in this frame survey was compared with previous research whereby several developments appear evident:
- the total number of landing beaches has declined,
- the number of fishing vessels has declined compared to 2001 (from 322 – 294),
- the fleet (vessels larger than 5m) is back to the level of the 1980s (in the 1990s the fleet was larger),
- a concentration has taken place of vessels in the 2 main harbours of the island Caracasbaai and Piscaderabaai.
Based on 32 interviews held with fishermen we found that the average age of the fishermen was 55 years old. Most of the fishermen indicated to have ‘always’ been fishing. Twenty of the fishermen said to have more fishers in the family. The fishermen we spoke fished on average 2.8 times a week. For 19 fishermen fishing is their primary source of income, yet amongst them are some whom go only once a week or only in weekends. It is most likely that the latter men also have another source of income, such as a pension (considering their relative high age). The fishermen on average go to sea alone or with 1 assistant.
The average age of the vessels was 24.5 years old. The vessels were motorised, with inboard motors (average of 161 HP - range between 15-400) and outboard motors (average of 18.6 HP - range between 8-48). Thirteen fishermen (all having inboard motorised vessels) indicate to have either a GPS, fishfinder, electric reel or winch on board (or a combination thereof).
The main possible limitations of the research were the timing of the research. As it took place right after the hurricane season it is possible that many smaller vessels would still be stored on land (not in the harbour or at the landing beaches). In addition we have only been able to interview 32 fishers which is a relative low number.
It is recommended to keep the frame survey data up to date, by doing a yearly update. In addition it is recommended to do the next steps (boat activity survey and landings survey) as soon as possible, making sure that the data of the three surveys can be validly combined.