On October 11, the Department of Environment and Marine Affairs (DEMA) announced the conch quota for the 2013/2014 season would remain the same as in the previous year.
In preparation for the official opening of the queen conch (Strombus gigas) fishing season, which began on October 15, the Department said it met with the CITES Scientific Authority Committee (SAC), Fisheries Advisory Committee (FAC) and industry stakeholders in order to determine a quota that would allow for the sustainable harvest of queen conch this season, while simultaneously supporting fishing livelihoods.
The department noted in an October 11 statement, that queen conch stocks have been in decline in the Turks and Caicos Islands since the passing of hurricanes Ike and Hannah in 2008. As a result, DEMA said it would undertake a TCIG-approved project to conduct a Conch Visual Survey (CVS), which will help DEMA to determine current stock characteristics and to estimate a total allowable catch (TAC) that can be sustainably harvested. "DEMA has begun preliminary work on the CVS, assisted by international expert Dr. Paul Medley; however, results from the CVS will not be available until next year," the statement read.
The 2012-2013 catch for queen conch showed some improvement over the previous year’s catch; however, improvements were not significant enough to merit increasing the quota at this time, DEMA reported. As a result, the quota for 2013-2014 will remain as follows:
- 500,000 lbs. for export
- 320,000 lbs. for local consumption
- 1,000,000 shells for export
Further information is available from DEMA: +1-649-941-5122