Fresh conch back on menu as season opens

| 31/10/2019 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service
John Bothwell measures a queen conch (Photo courtesy of April Cummings)

(CNS): Chefs can now gear up to prepare a plethora of conch and whelk dishes as the season opens tomorrow. The Department of Environment reminded fisherfolk that from 1 November until 30 April they can take five conchs daily per person or a maximum of ten per boat from local waters. Only queen conch (Strombus gigas, Lobatus gigas) may be taken and no one can purchase, receive, offer for sale or possess more than five per day.

Meanwhile, whelks are also up for grabs. The legal daily limit for possession of these shellfish during the open season is 2½ gallons in the shell or 2½lbs of processed meat per person, per day. No individual may purchase or receive more than these limits.

Chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth cannot be taken. Nor can people take echinoderms, such as starfish, sea eggs or urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars.

The DoE is urging shellfish lovers not to buy conch or whelk from those who take, purchase or possess more than the legal limits – even during the open season. Those possessing more than the legal limit will also be arrested and prosecuted, officials warned in a press release.

Members of the public are also reminded that they still have one more month to wait until Cayman’s annual lobster season opens. Lobsters are still off limits until 1 December, and even when fisherfolk come across lobster while looking for conch or whelk, they cannot take them yet. Anyone caught with locally-caught lobster out of season will also be arrested and prosecuted.

If anyone sees, or becomes aware of, suspected poaching activity, or suspects someone is purchasing more than the legal daily limits of locally caught conch or whelks, they are asked to call 911. They can also call DoE enforcement officers directly on Grand Cayman 916-4271 or on Little Cayman 925-0185. At present people on Cayman Brac should dial 911.

For more information on shell and other fish seasons visit the DoE website or contact DoE Public Education and Outreach Officer Brent Fuller 922-5514 or email

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A total ban on the taking of conch and lobster from Cayman waters should be imposed on all visitors and guests to these islands. Luxury charter boats should be prohibited from taking the same from Cayman waters to feed their clients, and all restaurants should be subjected to unannounced checks by DOE. Failure to produce an official invoice from an authorised distributor should result in a mandatory minimum fine.

    • Juniper says:

      So when the DoE makes these unannounced checks will the conchs have to produce their passports or will a drivers license suffice?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The limit mentioned in the article can easily be misinterpreted. Conch limits are 5 per person per day or 10 per boat, whichever is less. So if 1 person is on a boat their limit is 5 (yes, regardless of the size of your boat lol).

  3. bob says:

    you too craving!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Leviticus 11:10-11

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Only queen conch can be taken”. In all my six decades plus I’ve know queen conch as the rare one with the exquisite “cameo” shell. Now I discover that the “regular” conch is the queen conch and what I’ve known as “queen” appears to be “Cassis tuberosa” or king helmet – names I’ve never heard. Not sure what the local name is!

    Live and learn!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just remember, your bible forbids you from eating it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tell the limit to restaurants and one greedy fireman in Little Cayman. DOE officer, keep your eyes on him, the 5/10 rule is not for 3 or 4 trips a day

    • Anonymous says:

      Leave the Sister Islands alone!

      • Anonymous says:

        7:37…If I’m Caymanian and I abide by the laws and want to visit the sister islands with my family to do some fishing and at the same time take my legal limit of conch – whats the problem??

  8. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth: it’s also possible not to take or purchase any conch, lobster, or whelks. Just saying.

    Why are the DOE so complacent with restaurants acquiring personal catch allotments? The “season” restrictions were never intended to become annual commercial fishery windows.

    If that’s the DoE’s current attitude towards the commerce of dealing in frozen seafood, then we are already mis-managing finite exhaustible resources by rewarding year-round poachers who also happen to have access to a chest freezer…they are only limited by DOE’s scheduled liquidation intervals – or maybe they just suppose it could be from Honduras.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is illegal for ANYONE to be in possession of 5 or more conch in any one day. In other words, it is illegal to store conch above the daily limit so it cannot be viable for restaurants to offer local conch, unless they break the law. DOE should be doing random checks on restaurants to check invoices and stocks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Pillage away!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “On the menu” as a expression rather than literally, as restaurants who possess more than 5 conch are also breaking the law.

    • Anonymous says:

      One could only hope, but the fact is the freezers open at this time of the year, and all of the illegal poaching “from Honduras” gets sold, and the restaurants acquit themselves by not knowing/caring where it came from.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just like ‘Catch of the Day’…always seems to be Mahi !!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Harvesting for a living isn’t poaching. Conch is always on my menu!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it is you fool. Get a real job like everyone else and stop using this as an excuse. People like you will be the extinction of this species locally.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, Kato, it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Until you’ve harvested them all XXXXX!

    • Anonymous says:

      Same here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Selfish prick. Or sell fish, prick.

      Either way, you’re the reason legislation is needed in the first instance. Don’t give it that birthright bs either.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Shellfish” prick would be more appropriate. At any rate 11:34 your behavior and mind set is moronic. People who think like that are the reason conch populations are low. This is unsustainable and you will suffer if you continue this way. If conch is fished locally to extinction there wont be any left for you to catch bobo. Your arrogance is astounding.

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          ‘Shellfish” prick’, said Sean Connery, at some time, somewhere.

          Much as I love conch and whelk, I think there needs to be an enforced moratorium for a few years. Look at the whelks….. there is no WAY to control their being taken too heavily, with them being measured by the gallon!!!

          There should be a plastic coated circle in which if the whelk didn’t cover it, it couldn’t be taken, or a plastic ring in which the whelk must not pass through. Something like that. I won’t buy them and won’t take any myself any longer, even though I love them. They have to be fairly large to even be of size to reproduce.

          25 years ago, I could swim out almost anywhere that was legal and pick up a couple of conchs in 40 feet of water. Now, they are all deeper and there are far fewer of them, even on the Sister Islands. We have to do better. We can’t just wipe everything out that we want to eat.

          • Anonymous says:

            What about Locals who depend on the Sea for a living?

            • Anonymous says:

              Cayman as a whole has benefited in many ways from an increase in the economy (be it from tourism, private sector, construction etc). Unfortunately this increase has also come with an increase in the population which has more that doubled since the 80’s. It is no longer sustainable to harvest conch and lobster for a “living”. This is the sad reality. You can still get your daily limit but please understand that this will never again be a sustainable fishery. Please take only your daily limit so that we still have conch to enjoy in future, that goes for everyone.

            • Anonymous says:

              Well go to sea then!

            • Anonymous says:

              There shouldn’t be any full-time poaching reliance. That’s precisely the attitude that requires us, as a society, to forgo all manner of necessary and needed social programs and remediations, so we can instead annually divert $10-15 mln a year towards the Turtle Farm “conservation” project.

            • Anonymous says:

              Tell them go get a job at the cruise berthing facility.

            • BeaumontZodecloun says:

              Cleaned conch at $7.00/lb? Even in the days before we had a conch season, I doubt there were many who completely depended upon the sea for a living. There have certainly been those who raped the waters with impunity and, I suppose, made a living.

              There have always been those who ignored the laws. It is why there is not nearly the conch, lobster, whelk, grouper, squabs and nearly everything else as when all of us were young. We did it to ourselves, and if we’re not really, really careful, we will cross a tipping point where the symbiosis of various species and ecology (parrotfish/sand, etc.) gets out of balance and then we are screwed.

              I am willing to do without “my God-given seafood heritage” for a few years to build up their numbers.

              Am I alone? Should we all just take what we want until it is gone and then blame it on the ‘Goddamn furriners?’

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