Roatan Artisanal Fishing


In Roatan, artisanal (non-mechanized) fishing is practiced and provides for local consumption on a daily basis. Industrial fishing also occurs, which serves the need for larger scale demand for fish. According to recent polling, 82% of fishermen prefer working individually, at a family level and do not participate in any community style fishing activities. The remaining 18% participate in community styles of fishing such as NGOs, Church Groups, and sports teams. 

Non-mechanized fishing on motorboats is limited to fish populations in the immediate and surrounding areas of Roatan and the neighboring islands of Guanaja and Utila. This type of fishing is practiced and occurs just off the reef wall and is for local or family consumption. There are fishing territories around the Bay Islands. These areas are defined. The breadth of each fishing area is directly related to the size of the fishing boat and the power in its engine. Fishing areas are shared with fishermen from other communities. Almost all artisanal fishermen in the archipelago fish only with a handheld line or they free dive spearfish. One-third of fishermen will practice both forms of artisanal fishing. Line fishing represents 70% of the activity, followed by spearfishing (27%). The direct impact study of fishing gear on reefs indicates that fishing techniques do not cause significant damage. 


Fishing communities are mainly located in the east end of Roatan, Guanaja, and Utila. The community of Los Cayitos (in Utila) is one of the fishing communities with the most socio-economic fishing activity. Artisanal fishermen are as old-fashioned as it gets and it is alive and well in Roatan. This traditional form of fishing is still practiced daily in Roatan, Guanaja, and in Utila. 


Sports fishing has grown in recent years as more tournaments adopt "catch and release" practices to their rules. ROA ™ is quickly becoming an international destination for anglers of all countries. Reports indicate that the size of the fish reported year over for winning anglers has grown. Learn more about fishing tournaments and sports fishing here.