Honduras Lobster FIP

Last updated August 13, 2015 

FIP Stage



Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

© Abel Valdivia

Fishery Background

  • Volume – approximately 1,265 mt of lobster tails  in 2009 (all gear types)
  • Gear – Lobster trap
  • Location – Both industrial and artisanal fleets conduct the lobster fishery in Honduras. The industrial fleet centers its activities around the Bay Islands (Roatan, Guanaja) and La Ceiba. This fleet exploits the banks of Rosalinda, Gorda, Thunder Knoll, Media Luna and Lagarto Reef, in the eastern territorial waters of Honduras, and close to the border with Nicaragua. Other exploited banks include Misteriosa and El Rosario, north of the Swan Islands. The artisanal activity takes place in the Cayos Cochinos archipelago area. Please note that these locations are for the trap and dive fisheries.

FIP Stakeholders

Some of the stakeholders involved in the FIP include: WWF, the General Directorate for Fishing and Aquaculture (DIGEPESCA), the Organization of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA), The Nature Conservancy, The Smithsonian Institute, the Center for Marine Ecology (CEM), the National Service of Agropecuary  Health (SENASA), the Roatan Marine Park, Honduras Coral Reef Fund (Cayos Cochinos co-manager), the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), the Navy, the Merchant Marine, the Caribbean Fishers Association (APESCA), the Association of Honduras Industrial Fishers (APICA),  and other industry representatives.

Project Background

The Honduras spiny lobster FIP process began in June 2011 with completion of a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) pre-assessment. In October 2011, following the completion of the pre-assessment, a FIP scoping document was developed, which includes potential strategies for addressing the gaps identified in the pre-assessment. After sharing the scoping document with stakeholders, WWF held a FIP stakeholder meeting in December 2011 in Roatán, Honduras to  develop a FIP Action Plan that will be implemented over the next several years to bring the fishery up to a level consistent with the MSC standard.  At the stakeholder meeting, FIP activities, responsible parties, and estimated timeframes to complete each activity were identified. The FIP Action Plan was finalized in July 2012.

Key Accomplishments

Since the FIP Action Plan was finalized in July 2012, we have been working to implement high priority activities. Some of the key accomplishments include:

  •  WWF worked with processors and fishermen to conduct a pilot project to field test a traceability system designed for the Caribbean Spiny Lobster industrial trap fishery. The pilot project took place on July 2013 – February 2014, which involved placing observers aboard industrial trap fishing vessels to record catch data and tracing the trap-caught lobster up the supply chain. The lessons learned from the traceability system pilot project will be used to inform the development of expanded observer and traceability systems across the fishery: 

o   The system proved to be useful and effective for the traceability of the spiny lobster trap fishery, yet continuous training, emphasizing the importance of implementing best fishing practices, should be given to crew members.

o   The formats and codification system can be simplified and adapted to the conditions in the boats and packing plants, to allow for easier collection of information.

  •  WWF conducted several coordination meetings with relevant stakeholders:  

o   In June 2013, WWF and DIGEPESCA called a meeting with stakeholder representatives from the lobster trap fishery in Honduras, to create a National Multi Stakeholder Lobster Committee. Representatives from the Navy, Merchant Marine, CEM, SENASA and a member from the industrial sector were present. All attendees agreed to establish the committee and a new meeting will be held to follow-up on this. The establishment of a committee composed by representatives from all sectors will help to create a transparent management system, follow up on FIP progress and milestones, aid in the decision-making process, and allow for better participation and transparency in lobster fishery management and governance.

o   In May 2014, WWF, jointly with SENASA and DIGEPESCA, held a FIP informational meeting with 33 key FIP stakeholders (processors, fishers, government, and NGOs) in La Ceiba to update them on the FIP progress and increase their engagement in the process. Participants expressed interest in improving traceability of the Honduras lobster fishery and encouraging best fishing practices across the industry. SENASA was very supportive of the FIP work and expressed interest in collaborating on FIP activities. As a result of this, SENASA will share information to support specific FIP Action Plan activities.

o   Other individual meetings with relevant stakeholders have been carried out to keep them engaged and informed.


  • Collation of data and forms from different sources, in order to carry out the stock assessment information gap analysis. The objective of the analysis is to define which information is needed to carry out Caribbean Spiny Lobster stock assessments in Honduras systematically and periodically, in order to improve management of the fishery and in compliance with MSC standard.   Catch data and related forms have been collected from DIGEPESCA. SENASA will share export data requested by WWF.  Additional catch data information will be requested from processors and other NGOs that have agreed to support FIP-related activities.     
  • Preparation of proposals to fund specific FIP Action Plan activities. As a result of this, a grant proposal that was presented to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution has been approved and work will be commenced in early 2015. The name of the project is “Science-based decision-making for spiny lobster management in Honduras”, and one of the objectives is to evaluate the status of the lobster resources of Honduras.

Next Steps

Several FIP activities need to be completed by FIP stakeholders in order for the fishery to be ready to enter MSC full assessment. Some of these activities include:

  • Developing a comprehensive monitoring program;
  • Developing a long-term IUU monitoring plan;
  • Adapting, improving or developing new forms to collect necessary data to inform stock assessments, ecosystem-based indicators (i.e., non-target species, habitat, ecosystem), and the harvest strategy:

    o   Over the next year, using fisheries data collected by the Center for Marine Studies and the Smithsonian Institution, along with data provided by DIGEPESCA, SENASA and processors, WWF will work closely with a stock assessment consultant to identify gaps in the available fisheries data. The purpose of this is to improve data collection efforts and work towards the development of a comprehensive catch monitoring system and a full stock assessment. Also, a preliminary stock analyses for Honduras lobster will be developed.

  • Developing harvest control rules and integrating them into the harvest strategy;
  • Developing a stock assessment model and conducting a stock assessment;
  • Conducting a literature review of research from other areas on impacts on non-target species;
  • Developing an observer program for long-term monitoring of non-target species;
  • Conducting a study to evaluate habitat impacts of lobster traps in Honduras; 
  • Strengthening the capacity of fishery officers; and
  • Strengthening cooperation between institutions and civil society to improve monitoring, surveillance and enforcement. 

Additional Documents