Conch survey underway to check state of population

| 27/05/2019 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

John Bothwell measures a queen conch (Photo courtesy of April Cummings)

(CNS): The Department of Environment has begun its annual survey of the conch population in local waters. Each year, a survey team monitors around one hundred different 24-square-metre sites in various locations where conchs are counted and measured. The data collected is then used to assess the current state of the population. John Bothwell, a senior research officer with the DoE, explained that concerns were raised back in the 1980’s that the once abundant population of conch was dropping, as was the number of lobster.

Speaking to Cayman 27 recently, he explained that the seasonal catch limits were introduced in an effort to reverse the decline. While the DoE has had some success with the introduction of marine protections and catch limits and halting the decline, the situation remains precarious for the conch.

“Honestly, we are on the edge,” Bothwell said. “As the human population increases, it could easily tip over into an over-fishing situation.”

Meanwhile, experts meeting in the region recently to discuss conch populations on the wider Caribbean stage have called for a number of urgent initiatives to maintain queen conch resources.

Although the conch is caught here and sold to local restaurants as well as consumed privately, Cayman has a much smaller commercial conch fishery compared to other islands, where it is a fully fledged industry with around 20,000 fishers across the wider Caribbean region. Researchers estimate that 7,800 tonnes of annual conch meat is legally taken from this region annually.

With conch stocks in serious decline, the UN has said the trend can be reversed with specific measures to develop strategies and secure funding to support countries towards a goal of sustainability and equitable development.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    3/4 of the “consumption” is by poachers

  2. Anonymous says:

    These draconian catch limits are choking the life out of our fishing industry!

    • Anonymous says:

      without the limits you wont have a fishing industry….

    • Another day in Cayman says:

      Why not encourage studies of and implementation of conch Farmington feasible as an alternative to the demise of the local conch.. instead of all the nay saying propose coherent solutions people

      • Anonymous says:

        Any time the private sector want to start farming go ahead. But since the Turks & Caicos conch Farm failed as a business please don’t ask for my tax dollars to support this like the turtle Farm.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could not have said it better myself. @8:30am

    • Anonymous says:

      What conch fishing industry? Those are recreational limits. Do you honestly think there are enough conch out there for a commercial fishery?

  3. Ron Ebanks says:

    Doe the State of the conch is near depletion , study done put that money into marine Enforcement .

    • Anonymous says:

      This should not take long as hardly anymore to count

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      How are DoE going to do this study ? How much is it going to cost ?
      Do they not know already that all Marine Resources are about to the point of depletion and need protection and enforcement to bring everything back .

  4. Anonymous says:

    I know where 15 conchs reside most of the year – in the Legislative Assembly!

  5. Anonymous says:

    So, a government which seems incapable of telling us how many humans live here, is going to give us an accurate count of underwater snails?


    • Anonymous says:

      Today’s Compass quotes government figures that contend there are only 23,168 expats working in Cayman. It says this in an article that also says there are 5,940 Permanent Residents and all a week after we learned there were more than 27,000 people here on work permits.

      The Compost has just repeated what they were told. Looks to me like 33,000 expats working in Cayman, 10,000 more than “official” reports. Is anyone checking the government numbers?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good to know. Now I’m going to follow them so I know where to check back when the season reopens.

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