People warned not to poach as conch season opens

| 31/10/2017 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Conch and whelk season opens tomorrow, 1 November, when shellfish-lovers can help themselves to five queen conchs per person per day or ten per boat, and 2½ gallons of whelks in the shell, or 2½ pounds of processed whelks. But the Department of Environment is urging people not to be tempted to poach during the open season, which lasts until 30 April, to know the legal limits, locations and types of seafood they can take.

“The open season for conch and whelk is designed to give people a chance to recreationally harvest these marine gastropods in a sustainable way,” said DoE Senior Research Officer John Bothwell. “Our goal is a sustainable recreational fishery for both of these species, not just this November, but for many years in the future as well.”

The DoE also reminded people who plan going out on the water this weekend  that the lobster season is not open yet.

“We strongly urge persons not to support poaching,” Bothwell added. “Don’t buy conch or whelk from people who are over the limit during the open season. And remember that lobster season is still closed. Poaching is a crime and should be reported to authorities.”

During the open season only queen conch may be taken, and in any one day, no one may take, or permit another person to take, purchase, receive, offer for sale or possess more than five conch from Cayman waters. It is also permissible to take 2½ gallons in the shell, or 2½ pounds of processed whelks, per person, per day. No one may purchase or receive more than that.

Chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth may not be taken at any time, nor should echinoderms, including starfish, sea eggs/urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars, be taken from local waters at any time.

If you suspect someone of poaching conch or whelk or lobster, call 911 or DoE enforcement officers directly: on Grand Cayman 916-4271, Cayman Brac 926-0136, Little Cayman 916-7021.

For more information on all of the closed seasons and other conservation rules, persons may contact the DoE on 949-8649 or email Alternatively, you can download the DoE app to your Apple or Android smartphone here.      

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The bible is clear. Those who eat conch and whelks will surely burn in hell.

  2. Mr. D says:

    Can DOE advise why we now call our broad leaf conch a Queen Conch? Is this not confusing to the general public and historical information for our Cayman Islands. Queen Conch are know to locals for years as a restricted conch and if catch removing could call for Jail time.

    • Anonymous says:

      DoE are using the correct name. Read a book.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its because common names are confusing. DoE tends to just call it ‘conch’ for that reason. (And use the (common) scientific name, Strombus gigas, in technical or legal cases.) Like you some of the people in the DoE grew up knowing the ‘brown, blunt-ended conch’ as a ‘queen conch’. Turns out that’s actually a species of helmet in ‘common name’ in other parts of the world. (Scientific name Cassis madagascariensis or Cassis tuberosa. The two species are hard to tell apart.)

      So, for clarity, you can take Strombus gigas (in season) legally. All other ‘conchs’ are restricted / protected under the Law. (And they go by a lot of names. See p. 53 of the NCL. So don’t take any Cassis species.

      Bonus complication: there are also other conchs found in Cayman waters occasionally. And even their scientific names are undergoing change right now (from Strombus to Lobatus).
      Milk Conch (common) – Lobatus costatus
      Hawk-Wing Conch – Lobatus raninus
      Fighting Conch – Strombus pugilis
      Rooster-Tail Conch – Lobatus gallus
      Horse Conch – Triplofusus giganteus (not really a conch)
      King/Queen/Princess Helmets – Cassis madagascariensis/tuberosa/flammea – which some of us in Cayman knew traditionally as ‘Queen conch’

      And of course ‘The Conch’ – Strombus gigas (now also known as Eustrombus gigas or Lobatus gigas)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think everyone here including myself needs some marinated conch with extra scotch bonnet pepper to give our mouths a break. STFU! If anyone here is so concerned apply to the marine unit and stand up for these conchs! If not go and rake up those breadfruit leaves in your backyard in the mean time.

  4. Cheese Face says:

    What’s the daily limit on parrots?

  5. Veritas says:

    I always thought the law exempted born Caymanians from West Bay.

  6. Conch season is way too long and what makes matters even worse are the 27000 work permit holders(approx.) that have the same rights as Caymanians in that they can get the same number of conch and this is a disaster in the making for future generations.The same goes for LOBSTER and FISH.
    Caymanians need protection from this very real threat to our struggling marine life and I hope that our govt or future govts will take this threat seriously as with talks about increasing our population will only make matters worse.You think anyone will listen??

  7. Anonymous says:

    how about enforcement of laws or bringing in meaningful fines and jail terms….

  8. Anonymous says:

    In CB/LC all branches of law enforcement and firemen

  9. Anonymous says:

    Mmm, poached conch. Super tender.

  10. West bay Premier says:

    I don’t understand why there would be a 6 months open season. The other 6 months of the year is hardly enough time for the conch and whelk to get to maturity size to reproduce. How do we expect the conch and whilk populations to survive ? I think that DOE need a marine Biologist with a brain. What is wrong with 3 weeks open season ? Even to 3 weeks is too long . Be like Florida 1 week open season for citizens and visitors , and after that week and you’re caught taking out of season you get jail time and money fine.

    • Diogenes says:

      You think the government gives a damn about the environment or conservation, surely the 1% of expenditure they allocate to the DoE should tell you otherwise Cayman has miles of virtually unpatrolled beaches and marine habitats. Even if the seasons were changed who would be out and about enforcing the time limits?


    • Anonymous says:

      A marine biologist with a brain? How about you get one before commenting on here…

      • West bay Premier says:

        YOU Anonymous 5:58pm , why don’t you get a brain before you start commenting . STOP ME .

        • Anonymous says:

          Bullying tendencies West Bay Premier…you need anger management treatment! If you can’t deal with the heat, get out of the kitchen…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Biggest poachers on CB are law enforcement…..not good.


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