By Monica Walton
Illegal conch-fishing is becoming more of a business for poachers in Cayman, that’s what the Department of Environment says. This comes after a survey showing conch numbers have declined by almost half.
Mark Orr, Enforcement Officer at the Department of Environment, said conch poaching is rife in our waters.
“The phrase that gets thrown around a lot is that it’s just taking marine life, at least they’re not out robbing. It is robbing from me my kids, your kids and grand kids and future generations of Cayman.”
Mr. Orr said with illegal-conch fishing spiraling out of control people need to be on the look-out, “in the past year and a half we have seen an increase in the amount people are taking. It’s now averaging around 100 conch each time.”
The latest survey by the doe shows a sharp fall in the conch population – there’s now half as many conch in the water as there used to be a year ago. Mr. Orr said poaching has played a role in the decline.
“It started with the economic decline some people have lost jobs but we are getting the same people we’ve had for years. Instead of going out and working like everyone else they go and poach conch and make money to buy drugs,” he added.
“We are using this drop to remind people to watch out for poachers because it is having an effect,” Research Officer, John Bothwell, said. “We have enough for consumption but not for people to exploit it commercially.”
The DoE will be heading to Little Cayman to conduct a survey there in the next couple of weeks.