Categorized | National News

Gov’t Plans for Conch Preservation

Despite researchers concluding that the Queen Conch could soon become non-existent – within the next 10 years – the Department of Marine Resources said there is nothing on the table to implement a conch season. 

However, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard outlined steps that the ministry is taking to preserve the Queen Conch, adding that a survey is being conducted nationally to get the views of stakeholders.

“We are aware that there is a petition circulating by members of civil society and conch season has been one of the options raised by persons who are concerned about the conch stock, but we have been very clear in the ministry in terms of the measures that we were pushing and I can outline those.  But I should also say that a survey is being conducted nationally to get the views of all stakeholders,” Mr. Pintard said.

“We will make decisions at the end of having canvassed all stakeholders, but the principle positions we’ve been pushing is one, we want fishers to give serious consideration to the possibility that we will ask them to land conch in the shell, since lip thickness is the best way of determining the maturity of the conch.

“So, we hear a lot about persons having small conchs and the assumption is for every small conch you see, somebody is engaged in something illegal when there are some species of conch that are fully matured, but maybe somewhat small.

“And so, landing in the shell does have certainly some logistical issues that we are seeking to work through but it is one of the things we are pushing.

“The second thing is we are reducing the quota of exports and the goal is to eliminate the export of conch from our standpoint unless someone has the science to dissuade the government from that position.”

Conchservation, a national campaign was launched by Bahamas National Trust (BNT) in 2016 and is aimed at protecting the Queen Conch in The Bahamas through research, citizen science and policy change. The purpose was also to engage fishermen and Bahamians in the conversation about changing current legislation in an effort to present documentation to the Department of Marine Resources. 

Petitions continue to circulate regarding the same.
The minister said many believe that marine officials are not moving fast enough, but he told reporters recently, that the government does not want to make decisions without giving stakeholders ample time and warning

“There are some, on one hand, who feel we are not moving fast enough, that we should do it suddenly and what we have been saying to them [is] that for all of the businesses that they are in they would not tolerate or they would be concerned if the government makes a summary decision without giving them an opportunity one, to dispose of the stock that they already have, [and]commitments already made, without any warning or any preparation,” Mr. Pintard said.

“So, we needed to one, say it as we did to the commercial vessels about divers, we need to say it to those persons that you could expect, come next season, that there will be a substantial reduction in the quota that every company is assigned in The Bahamas. 

“So, they now need to begin to pivot to look at other species or to look at the local market where the bulk of conch is already sold. It’s only one fifth that’s exported.”
Among other measures taken by the Department of Marine Resources, the minister added that it is the belief that conch should not be harvested by visitors and “measures will be taken to reduce the amount in pounds that they will be allowed to capture on sports vessels and pleasure crafts”.

Since the launch of BNT’s Conchservation Campaign, 7,374 persons have signed the online petition that has since closed.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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