Conch Season Closes Early

2013 conch season
closes 1 month earlier

The 2013 conch season, which usually expires at the end of
June has been closed a month earlier. The harvest for this year, approximately a
million pounds of crustacean meat, has been realized across all five fishing
cooperatives. A notice has since been made public for fisher-folks who are still
at sea, as well as consumers that the deadline for possession of conch is
impending. News Five spoke with Senior Fisheries Officer George Myvette, who
told us about this year’s yield.
George Myvette, Senior
Fisheries Officer

“The season is closed generally by two means.
The first option that we have is the regular closure of the season that would
go, the open season would go from essentially October first of any given year to
June thirtieth of the following year. Over the last couple years we have
introduced a quota system in the fishery in which we have an assigned quota to
the various fishing cooperatives and once that quota has been realized the
season is then closed. Last year, as you gentlemen would note, I believe was
closed also in May.

This year similarly, the season is closed before
the normal closure which means that again we’re at a juncture where the quota
has been realized by the fishing cooperatives. For us, as you would note, there
are about five fishing cooperatives in Belize, the two larger ones are National
Fishermen Cooperative and Northern Fishermen Cooperative. National realized
their quota about a week ago and Northern has realized its quota on Monday, this
past Monday. What we have done is that we will be making allowances twofold. We
have given the cooperatives a grace period that lasted up until yesterday to
allow for boats that are in the outlying areas to return to the cooperatives to
deposit the harvest. On the second note, the general public is given a little
over a week, going up to May thirty-first, 2013, to effectively dispose of
whatever conch they may have in stocks. So if, for restaurateurs, if you have
conch in stock we’re essentially saying try to serve those conch before May
thirty-first. Similarly, for those Belizeans who would be taking conch out of
the country to relatives we are saying you have until May thirty-first to take
this out. If you have conch in your freezer now is the time to essentially put
those conch to soup and use them before May thirty-first, 2013.”

is currently a push for the queen conch, which is native only to the Caribbean,
to be placed on the list of endangered species, despite strong objections from
fisheries authorities and industry stakeholders. This is the second consecutive
year that the season has been closed early.