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March 27, 2012

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Martha Davis

For more information on the status of conch in the Bahamas, please refer to:http://www.communityconch.org/our-research/. The technical brief available there summarizes three years of research and presents management recommendations.

larry smith

Highlights of the research mentioned above:

Fishing pressure on the queen conch has grown along with the rising demand for seafood and the increased use of hookahs.

As a result, juveniles are being harvested illegally and previously inaccessible deep-water stocks are being exploited, leaving no refuge for reproduction of the species.

Conch densities are decreasing in commercially fished areas to levels that will not sustain the populations.

Conch densities in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park have dropped 35 per cent over the last 20 years, and further decline is expected.

Queen conch populations are rapidly declining below the critical thresholds for reproduction, and they are being harvested before reaching sexual maturity.

The Exuma park is not big enough to support a self-sustaining conch population. And a single reserve such as the ECLSP cannot produce sufficient larvae to protect the species when the population is being heavily exploited outside the reserve.

A network of marine reserves is needed to provide a chain of reproductive sources.

Release of hatchery-reared conch in Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas has not been successful in rebuilding stock - natural populations need to be conserved.

New management policies required: stop or tax exports, set closed season from July 1 to September 30, set catch quotas, set lip thickness criteria of 15mm, ban use of hookah for conch, expand marine reserve system to include prime conch habitat, support sustainably caught conch co-ops, implement public education campaigns.

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