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Mishka Evans

Environmental Economics
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Introduction ............................................................................................................................3

Literature Review...................................................................................................................4

Methodology ..........................................................................................................................8

Analysis/Discussion ...............................................................................................................8

Conclusion .............................................................................................................................13

Limitations .............................................................................................................................14

Recommendations ..................................................................................................................15

References ..............................................................................................................................16

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Jamaica is a Small Island Developing State located in the Caribbean Region. Like most

Caribbean countries, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural hazards such as hurricanes. Additionally,

like most Caribbean islands, Jamaica is characterized by its dependence on subsistence industries

such as the fisheries industry. Hurricanes are usually known for their destruction and devastation

caused on land, but, hurricanes also cause destruction and devastation to aquatic life and marine

environments, and by extension the fisheries industry.

During discussions at the company of my summer employment, it was mentioned that the series

of hurricanes in 2017 had negatively impacted the export of seafood. This intrigued me and

influenced my research topic ―The Economic Impacts of Hurricanes on the Jamaican Fisheries


This research paper will outline how hurricanes affect aquatic life, marine environments and the

fisheries industry; ascertain the economic benefits of the fisheries industry; and analyze the

economic costs incurred by the fisheries industry due to hurricanes.

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Jamaica is located in the Caribbean Region, more specifically at 18⁰N, 77⁰W. Just like most

Caribbean countries, Jamaica lies within the Atlantic Hurricane Belt, making it extremely

vulnerable to a natural hazard referred to as a hurricane. A hurricane is an intense rotating storm

that develops over warm tropical waters and is characterized by low atmospheric pressure, strong

winds and heavy rainfall. Hurricanes are usually known for their destruction and devastation

caused on land, but, hurricanes also wreak havoc and cause just as much damage to marine life

and environments. Hurricanes affect marine life and environments by changing temperatures,

salinity levels, oxygen levels, structure of the ocean/sea floor and transferring land pollution.

Oceans and seas are layers of temperature and salinity (Wilson, 2019). Surface water is usually

fresher and warmer, whereas, deeper water is usually saltier and colder. When hurricanes occur,

these temperatures and salinity levels are disrupted. As a result, surface water becomes saltier

and cooler than normal, while deeper water becomes fresher and warmer than normal (Coastal

Angler Magazine, 2019). When hurricanes occur, oceans and seas are also inundated by inland

water. Inland water is fresher compared to seas and oceans, so when they are integrated, the

oceans and seas experience a reduction in salinity (Wilson, 2019). Fish species that are sensitive

to these changes in temperatures and salinity level normally migrate to a more suitable water

column. However, many times some are unable to migrate and get trapped in a water column

with inappropriate temperatures and salinity level, and thus eventually die (Coastal Angler

Magazine, 2019).

Post-hurricane fish kills are mainly caused by changes in the oxygen levels of oceans and seas.

Fish use oxygen to aid in their metabolic process, therefore when oxygen levels become too low,

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fish are unable to intake the necessary amount of oxygen for metabolism. Oxygen levels may

alter due to strong winds from hurricanes. These winds can force surface waters to one side,

allowing deeper waters to then replace the surface water. However, deeper waters have lower

oxygen levels than surface waters, as such, there is a reduction in the amount of oxygen that is

essential for the fish’s survival. Oxygen levels may also alter due to prolonged periods of

cloudiness that accompany hurricanes. There are aquatic organisms and plants that engage in

photosynthesis, which involves the conversion of energy from sunlight into self-needed nutrients

while also releasing oxygen. When hurricanes occur there are prolonged periods of cloudiness

and these aquatic organisms and plants release less oxygen, thus lowering the oxygen levels in

the oceans and seas. As previously stated, the lowered oxygen levels hinder fish’s survival

(Coastal Angler Magazine, 2019). In fact, after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, it was estimated that

7 million fish died from depleted oxygen levels (Kruczynski & Fletcher, n.d.).

Hurricanes are also capable of damaging the structure of the ocean/sea floor. During hurricanes,

gigantic waves are formed which can grow to approximately 60 feet above surface waters and

reach approximately 300 feet below surface waters. When these waves reach as far as 300 feet

below surface waters, coral reefs are destroyed and displaced. Being that coral reefs provide

food, habitat and protection for millions of fish species, their destruction threatens the very

livelihood and survival of these fish. The waves can also result in the death of aquatic life either

by smothering them in sand and rocks, and/or thrusting them into rocks and other structures.

Additionally, the waves associated with hurricanes may move deeper waters upward, resulting in

changes in the temperature, salinity and oxygen levels of the oceans and seas, which negatively

affect aquatic life (Ocean Conservancy, 2019).

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Hurricanes are notorious for their ravaging effects on land. However, the effects hurricanes have

on land can lead to the pollution of seas and oceans. One such instance occurred when Hurricane

Andrew hit Florida in 1992. It resulted in an oil spill of about 25,000 gallons of gas and oil in the

Biscayne Bay (Kruczynski & Fletcher, n.d.). A more recent occurrence was when Hurricane

Florence hit North Carolina in 2018. Roughly 50 hog lagoons had overflowed and millions of

gallons of hog faeces were washed into other water bodies, increasing the pollution of seas and

oceans. The increased pollution of seas and oceans during hurricanes may also be caused by

runoffs of fertilizer, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals into nearby waterways, or inland

flooding that washes debris into the seas and oceans (Ocean Conservancy, 2019).

Based on the effects of hurricanes on marine life and environments, it is evident that hurricanes

also have an impact on fisheries industries. Firstly, hurricanes result in revenue losses for

fisheries industries. It is dangerous for fishermen to operate during a hurricane, as a result,

fishermen have to go days without working when a hurricane hits. Fishermen therefore lose the

revenue they would have earned if the hurricane had not occurred and they were able to go to

work. Secondly, hurricanes cause damages to infrastructure such as harbours, docks and piers, as

well as buildings such as processing facilities and restaurants that serve seafood dishes.

Hurricanes are also responsible for the damages and losses of fishing equipment such as boats,

vessels, traps and nets. These damages and losses set back the fisheries industry, even long after

the hurricane has passed, because infrastructure and buildings need to be fixed and fishermen

have to repair and replace equipment. Thirdly, hurricanes can result in the migration or death of

fish. Consequently, after hurricanes, the fisheries industries experience a shortage in fish stocks,

which is usually followed by a spike in the prices for seafood. Lastly, after a hurricane, fisheries

industries can experience a rise in short term unemployment. This occurs because fishermen are

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without jobs until fish stocks are replenished, fishing equipment are repaired and replaced, and

infrastructures are fixed properly. This also occurs because seafood-related businesses that were

impacted by the hurricane need time for the businesses to recover.

According to ( NOAA Fisheries, 2018), the hurricane season of 2017, more specifically

Hurricane Irma and Maria had significant economic impacts on the fisheries industries in

Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It has been estimated that the impact to

Florida’s fisheries industry included more than US$95 million worth of damages to vessel

owners and businesses, almost US$98 million in revenue losses and about 1,677 jobs were lost in

the short term. However, in 2015, it was reported that in Florida, the annual value added of the

commercial seafood industry amounted to US$5.9 billion; the annual value added of the

domestic production of seafood amounted to US$450 million; and the annual value added of the

recreational fishing industry amounted to US$7 billion. Furthermore, the domestic production of

seafood and the recreational fishing industry provided about 107,083 jobs collectively. It was

also estimated that the impact to Puerto Rico’s fisheries industry included approximately

US$15.4 million worth of damages to fishing operations and businesses, roughly US$5.1 million

in revenue losses and the loss of about 174 jobs in the short term. In addition, the impact to the

U.S. Virgin Islands’ fisheries industry included roughly US$6.1 million worth of damage to

fishing operations and businesses, US$3.2 million in revenue losses, and the loss of about 46

jobs in the short term. Meanwhile, it was reported that between 2010 and 2015, Puerto Rico

landed dockside revenues totalling US$8.6 million annually and the U.S. Virgin Islands landed

dockside revenues totalling US$5.4 million annually.

The aforementioned clearly outlines the economic impacts that hurricanes have on the fisheries


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This research is entitled ―The Economic Impacts of Hurricanes on the Jamaican Fisheries

Industry‖. The aim of the research is to discern how hurricanes affect aquatic life, marine

environments and the fisheries industry; ascertain the economic benefits of the fisheries industry;

and evaluate the economic costs incurred by the fisheries industry due to hurricanes.

Due to limitations encountered in conducting primary research, secondary research was

employed as the main research method. It involved using previously gathered data and existing

information in the current research. This method was chosen because it is cost-effective and less

time-consuming. However, most importantly, this method was chosen because data/information

is readily available and easily accessible. The secondary sources used to investigate the research

topic include (10) reports, (1) National Library publication, (1) speech, (1) blog and (4)

editorials. These particular sources were selected because they provided data and information

relevant to the research topic being explored and analyzed.


The fisheries industry is undoubtedly a main contributor to economic growth and development,

not only locally but also globally. In fact, between 2014 and 2018, the Jamaican fisheries

industry had an estimated value ranging from US$40 million to US$60 million annually

(MICAF, 2019). While globally, in 2016, the fisheries industry was worth US$136 billion

(MICAF, 2016).

In Jamaica, the fisheries industry is a key contributor to nutrition and food security, employment,

poverty alleviation and foreign exchange balance (Jones, 2017). (Kong, n.d.) further expounded

as follows:

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Nutrition and Food Security

Fish is a vital source of protein and contributes essential minerals and vitamins to one’s diet. For

example, fish oil, which is a by-product, is known to build the immune system of persons that

may be in ill-health, pregnant or very young. Also, fish is usually available all year round, in

sufficiently diverse forms for all societal classes – poor, middle income and rich.


The fisheries industry provides several employment opportunities to various socio-economic

classes. Types of jobs within this industry include fishermen, fish farmers, processors, boat

builders, net makers and ice suppliers. Other affiliated jobs include the persons who help to load

the boats before they go out to sea and off-load fish when it comes back to port. Then there are

the avenues through which the fish are prepared and sold to consumers such as supermarkets,

restaurants, bars and shops. Fisheries can be the main source of income and in some instances it

is the supporting or alternative source of income for an individual or family.

Poverty Alleviation

The poorest and most marginalized in our society depend on fisheries for survival, employment

and just overall support for their livelihoods. Also, when persons from other sectors face

economic hardships, the fisheries industry becomes their employment of last resort. As such,

there is a correlation between employment opportunities in the fisheries industry and poverty


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Foreign Exchange Balance

Jamaica exports lobster and conch, thus generating foreign exchange. Also, as previously stated

the Fisheries Industry provides several food options, reducing the need to import food items and

thus contributing to the balance of foreign exchange.

Evidently, Jamaica reaps several economic benefits from its fisheries industry. However, being

that Jamaica is situated directly in a hurricane zone; the devastating effects of any hurricane will

result in economic costs.

Table 1: The table below highlights the hurricanes that hit Jamaica since 1988.


Gilbert 1988 5

Michelle 2001 4

Charley 2004 (August) 4

Ivan 2004 (September) 5

Dennis 2005 4

Emily 2005 5

Wilma 2005 (October) 5

Dean 2007 5

Nicole 2008 4

Gustav 2008 (August) 4

Sandy 2012 3

Source: (National Library of Jamaica, n.d.)

According to (ECLAC, UNDP, & PIOJ, 2004), the fisheries industry sustained significant

damages and losses in 2004 because of Hurricane Ivan. The hurricane destroyed fishery

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equipment, fish ponds, coastal line resources, mangroves and coral reef structures. This resulted

in the migration of fish, as well as, the death of fish stocks. Consequently, there was a temporary

decline in the amount of fish landed. Overall, total damages and losses cost the fisheries industry

roughly J$342 million.

Table 2: The table below is showing the annual growth rate for the Agriculture, Forestry and

Fishing Sector. Although it does not highlight the annual growth of the fisheries industry only,

inferences can still be made from the trends. In 2001, the annual growth rate was a solid 5.8%,

but declined to -7% in 2002. Worthy of note, Hurricane Michelle hit Jamaica in 2001, as such the

decline in growth can be partially attributed to the damages and losses Hurricane Michelle

caused the fisheries industry. Similarly, in 2003, the annual growth rate was a splendid 4.7%, but

by the end of 2004 it had declined to -0.8% and then further declined to -4.6% in 2005. Jamaica

was hit by two hurricanes in 2004 and three more hurricanes in 2005. Therefore, the plummeting

growth rate can be partially explained by the damages and losses that Hurricanes Charley, Ivan,

Dennis, Emily and Wilma caused the fisheries industry.


2000 2001 2002 2004b 2005b
Annual rates of growth
Gross Domestic Product
by economic activity

Agriculture, Forestry &

Fishing -12 5.8 -7 4.7 -0.8 -4.6
Source: (ECLAC, UNDP, & PIOJ, 2004)

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Table 3: This table shows the total gross value added by industry from 2012 to 2018.

In 2012, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Industry had a gross added value of J$49,371

million. However, this declined in 2013 to J$48,994 million. Although this does not highlight the

gross value added of the fisheries industry only, given that Jamaica was hit by Hurricane Sandy

in 2012, we can infer that the damages and losses sustained by the fisheries industry due to

Hurricane Sandy are partly responsible for the decline.

Graph 1: The graph below shows the economic costs incurred by the fisheries industry after

Hurricanes Ivan, Wilma, Dean and Sandy hit Jamaica. Hurricane Dean cost the fisheries industry

the most, with damages and losses totalling J$385.6 million. On the contrary, Hurricane Wilma

cost the fisheries industry the least, with damages and losses amounting to J$1.7 million.

Additionally, according to (ECLAC, 2001), the damage and losses Hurricane Michelle caused

the fisheries industry was not recorded; consequently, the economic costs could not be evaluated.

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Damages & Losses in the Jamaican Fisheries
Industry caused by Hurricanes





0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400

Damages & Lossess

(J$ millions)

Sources: (ECLAC, UNDP, & PIOJ, 2004); (PIOJ, 2007); (PIOJ, 2005); (PIOJ, 2013)


The fisheries industry is a vital sector to the Jamaican economy. Although not monetized, the

fisheries industry provides the following economic benefits to the Jamaican economy: food

security, employment and other income generating opportunities, poverty alleviation, and foreign

exchange balance. However, due to Jamaica’s vulnerability to hurricanes, the fisheries industry

sometimes experiences negative shocks.

Hurricanes cause changes in the temperatures, salinity levels and oxygen levels of oceans and

seas. They also cause damages to the structure of ocean/sea floors. Additionally, the catastrophes

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that hurricanes cause on land can lead to a spike in the pollution of oceans and seas. The

aforementioned results in the death and migration of fish fleets. Consequently, the fisheries

industry experiences a reduction in fish captures. In addition, hurricanes further affect the

fisheries industry through revenue losses; short term unemployment; and damages to the

infrastructure, buildings and equipment of fishermen and fisheries-related businesses.

Conclusively, hurricanes can be costly for the Jamaican fisheries industry. The economic costs

associated with hurricanes include the decline in the annual growth rates and gross added value

of the fisheries industry, as well as, the costs incurred for the damages and losses caused by the

hurricanes. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan cost the fisheries industry approximately J$342 million; in

2005, Hurricane Wilma cost the fisheries industry roughly J$1.7 million; in 2007, Hurricane

Dean cost the fisheries industry just about J$385.6 million; and in 2012, Hurricane Sandy cost

the fisheries industry around J$90.4 million.


 Had to rely solely on secondary research. Respective government ministries and

companies were contacted to gather primary information on the topic, however,

responses were not received from some and others were unwilling to share

data/information. As such, no primary research was incorporated in this research paper.

 Data/Information relevant to the topic were more readily available for other countries (i.e.

developed countries) than locally. In fact, many times when appropriate local sources

were identified, payment was required to access the data/information.

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 Difficulty gathering statistics on Jamaica’s fisheries industry only. Published statistics

always grouped the fisheries industry with the agriculture and forestry industries.


 Government should intensify their precautionary measure advisories prior to the landing

of hurricanes. These advisories will remind and inform fishermen and fisheries-related

businesses on all the possible precautionary measures they can take before the hurricane

makes landfall, in order to minimize potential losses. This can be done by running more

detailed advertisements in the media.

 The government could also create additional employment opportunities prior to the

landing of hurricanes by hiring persons to ensure and assist fishermen and fisheries-

related businesses in taking the necessary precautions.

 Develop and implement insurance plans/schemes specifically for fishermen and fisheries-

related businesses. These plans/schemes would insure them against natural hazards, such

as hurricanes, and serve to minimize losses and speed up recovery.

 Government also has the option of providing subsidies to the fisheries industry after a

hurricane in order to speed up its recovery.

 Fishermen need to diversify their livelihoods. This means that fishermen need alternate

ways of generating income, instead of depending only on fishing to support their

livelihood. Being that there is usually a lag in the recovery of operations after a hurricane,

having alternate income earners will suppress any potential hardships that arise during the

recovery time.

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NOAA Fisheries. (2018). 60-day regional evaluation of impacts from Hurricanes Irma

and Maria to the fishing communities in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Retrieved from


CFRAMP. (2000). Jamaica National Marine Fisheries Atlas. CARICOM Fisheries

Report No. 4. Retrieved from

Coastal Angler Magazine. (2019). How Do Hurricanes Affect The Waters And Fish?

Retrieved from



MICHELLE....Implications for economic, social environmental development. Retrieved from




Jones, E. (2017). Promoting Community-based Climate Resilience in the Fisheries

Sector: Environmental and Social Management Framework. Retrieved from


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Kong, G. A. (n.d.). The Jamaica Fishing Industry: Brief Notes on its' Structure, Socio-

economic Importance and Some Critical Management Issues. Retrieved from

Kruczynski, W. L., & Fletcher, P. J. (n.d.). Major hurricanes can have major impacts on

marine. Retrieved from



Retrieved from


MICAF. (2016). Post Fisheries Industry Retreat: Statement by the Honourable Karl

Samuda, CD, MP. Retrieved from



National Library of Jamaica. (n.d.). History of Hurricanes and Floods in Jamaica.

Retrieved from


Ocean Conservancy. (2019). How do Hurricanes Affect Marine Life? Severe weather has

major effects above and below the surface. Retrieved from

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PIOJ. (2005). Assessment of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact of

Hurricane Wilma on Jamaica. Retrieved from




Retrieved from


Wilson, T. (2019). How Hurricanes Impact Fishing. Retrieved from

World Bank. (2014). Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal.

Washington DC: World Bank. License: Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—

NoDerivatives 3.0 IGO (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO). Retrived from

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