Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences

Roatan, Bay Islands

Honduras

+504 9556-0212

©2018 by Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences.

Commerce

Around this time, in the 1860s, the fruit industry began to prosper and the New Orleans and Bay Islands Fruit Companies were formed. Commercial fruit growers in Utila and Roatán began exporting bananas, plantains, and coconuts to the U.S. In 1877, a hurricane coupled with Honduran competition from the mainland decimated the fruit industry for several decades. At the turn of the century, islanders deserted their large fruit plantations and headed out to sea and they were soon recognized as fine seamen. Shipyards were constructed and the island gained an international reputation for building seaworthy vessels. The landscape lost its tallest hardwoods to the newly flourishing ship building industry. Until recently, seafaring has traditionally provided most of the income for the Bay Islanders. This activity began with the harvesting, processing, and export of shrimp, lobster, and conch and expanded to include several fish species. The volume of fish processed in the Bay Islands has decreased as fish marketing channels in Nicaragua reopened. State controls and civil war throughout most of the 80’s made Nicaraguan commercialization of their own products virtually impossible. Instead, Nicaraguan fisherman sold their products on the high seas at low prices, primarily to Honduran boats in the Bay Islands. While many locals still derive some income from fishing, the principal income is now derived from tourism.