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Belize’s shrimp industry rebounding Print E-mail
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Written by The Guardian   
Friday, 07 April 2017 12:24

Belize’s economy is at this point in time experiencing some severe shocks as a result of a number of factors, not least among them is the effect that diseases have been having on our exports, chief among them are diseases in the citrus and shrimp industries. But while diseases ravage these industries, there are great efforts being made in order to combat and rebound from the effects now being felt.

One industry where great strides have already been made and which is already being felt with increased earnings is shrimp production. First, a bit of history- In 2014 shrimp export earnings netted Belize over BZ $90 million dollars in foreign exchange or some 14.8% of all of Belize’s export earnings. At the time it was projected that this industry could have been one of the greatest earners for Belize. But from a projected path of growth, the industry was hit by an disease called Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) which is caused by a strain of bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus. As a result of the disease shrimp farms across the country began feeling the effect in March of 2015. Three months into the disease, most farms had been affected plummeting production to less than half of what it was in 2014.So severe were the effects that last year, exports were just over BZ $10 million dollars.

The toll on the industry was devastating. But all hope was not given up, producers moved quickly to identify the disease and began an aggressive campaign to stop and reverse the effects. So well orchestrated has been the response that the Statistical Institute of Belize’s report for shrimp exports for January and February this year is seeing an almost 2 million dollar increase in exports this year over last year. In the first two months of 2016 export amounted to 6.8 million dollars and this year it is recording 8.4 million dollars. Overall, exports in Marine Products for the month of February 2017 grew by BZ$ 0.4 Million, from BZ$ 4.3 Million in 2016 to BZ$ 4.7 Million in 2017.  This growth is all attributed to the rebounding shrimp industry which directly employs over 1,400 persons mostly women in rural areas who earn some 7 million dollars in income.

This year shrimp production is expected to bring in BZ $40 Million in export earnings.