By Natario McKenzie
Placing the Queen Conch on the ‘endangered species list’ could be “catastrophic” for the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries, the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources said yesterday, adding that conch harvesting for local consumption was pumping $6 million annually into this nation’s fisheries sector.
In his address at the opening ceremony for the 6th meeting of the ACP Fish II Programme steering committee, Mr Gray called on CARICOM to help ensure the Queen conch (Strobus gigas) is never added to this list.
Last year, Wild Earth Guardians, a non-profit environmental activist organisation, filed a petition in the US to list the queen conch under the Endangered Species Act. Such a move would eliminate all conch trade between the Caribbean and the US, which currently imports more than 70 per cent of the remaining regional conch harvest - including some 600,000 pounds, worth roughly $3.3 million a year, from the Bahamas.
“In the Bahamas, the food component of the conch accounts for about 500,000-plus pounds of production in that area alone, which amounts to about $6 million in value to the fisheries sector of our economy,” Mr Gray said.
“CITES has allowed us to export only 570,000 pounds, and we guard that figure very jealously because we believe that to export any more than they have permitted us to do could endanger the continued export of conch, and so we continue to hold fast to the export figures that is allowed by CITES.
“Some organisations in the US want to add the Queen conch to the list of endangered species. If that were to happen, it could be catastrophic to the Bahamas and the fishers of the country, and I believe it would be just as catastrophic to some of the other countries in the region but more so the Bahamas because we do not have too many industries.” More....