Conch remains at risk as season opens

| 29/10/2008

(CNS): Although the conch and whelk open season starts this Saturday, 1 November, the Department of Environment (DOE) said that there are strict limits on the daily allowance and neither can be taken from marine protected areas. DoT also noted that chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth may not be taken from Cayman waters at any time.


As the popular season opens the DoE is reminding people of the law. As the Conch is an endangered species, the DoE said the daily allowance for taking conch is five per person or ten per boat, whichever is less. The law further stipulates that no-one may purchase or receive more than five conch from Cayman waters in any one day.

The open season catch limit for whelk is 2½ gallons in the shell or 2½ pounds of processed whelks per person per day. Also, no-one may buy or receive more than this quota.

Violating any of the marine park regulations and conservation laws carries a maximum penalty of CI$500,000 and one year’s imprisonment. If convicted, the Court can also order the forfeiture of a person’s boat or other equipment used.              The current conch and whelk season will close on 30 April 2009.

The local Broad Leaf Conch is a vegetarian, marine snail native to the western Atlantic Ocean. Demand for its delicious meat and beautiful shell have contributed to chronic over fishing and placed it under enormous stress throughout the Caribbean. The drastic decline in conch populations across the Caribbean due to over-fishing, led to it being placed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES) list in 1992.

The conch population is extremely fragile and according to the National Trust estimates suggests that out of 400,000 offspring; fewer than one conch will survive into adulthood. This alarming statistic, coupled with other environmental and human pressures, signals a worrying time for the Queen Conch. The Cayman Islands’ Department of Environment conducts an annual conch survey to monitor the success of marine parks and replenishment zones in stabilising existing populations

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Peter Schmid says:

    What is the possibility of collecting large quantities of very young conch, let them grow in a protected environment and when their survival chances are better put them back into the open Ocean?

    I would echo the comment about the survival rates by Island-Guy, I would be interested to learn how those numbers were arrived at!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Try going a a year with a complete ban, re-evaluate and extend the ban for as long as necessary, then re-establish the quotas once the population has reached to where it needs to be. Unpopular but simple and necessary by the sound of it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s simple maths, there are 50,000 residents that are allowed to take "their share" of 5 conch per day during the open season from November 01 thru April 30.

    That is 181 days. Let’s say only 10% of residents take their daily quota of 5, we now have 5000 people taking 5 conch each per day for a stagering total of 25,000 conch per day or 4,525,000 for the open season. Simply put every person on island is allowed 905 conch per season. That it absolutely rediculous. Either ban taking conch for a period of time or change the rules to Caymanians only and reduce the quota. Oh, by the way the figures do not take into account the thief that takes all he can get to supply his crack habit or whatever.

  4. Island Guy says:

    If the conch are so much at risk, shorten the season! And the comment " out of 400,000 offspring; fewer than one will survive" !!!!!! fewer than one is ZERO! So basicly none survive!