Friday, July 12, 2024

Queen Conch 2020-21 Season officially opens


Scientifically known as Strombus gigas, the Queen Conch 2020-2021 season begins today, Thursday, October 1st. Fishermen across Belize are now allowed to harvest this marine species until June 30, 2021 or until production quota is met. If the quota is realized much earlier, the season will be declared closed at that time.

The Queen Conch is a favourite staple in the country, prepared in dishes like ceviche, soups, and fritters, among other delicacies. It also generates millions of dollars for Belize’s economy, as tons of this marine product are exported. During this new season, which coincides with the opening of the tourism season following over six months of shutdown due to COVID-19, the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) is again advising the public on their regulations:

Regulation 6. (1) No person shall take in the waters of Belize or buy, sell or have in his possession
(a) any conch between the 1st July and the 30th September, inclusive, in any year
(b) (i) at any time, conch the overall shell length of which does not exceed 7 inches (17.8
ii) the weight of unprocessed conch taken which does not exceed 7 ½ ounces (213 grams)
iii) the weight of partially process (market clean) conch taken which does not exceed 3
ounces (85 grams);
iv) the weight of fully process (fillet) conch taken which does not exceed 2 ¾ ounces (78
Regulation 6. (2) No fisherman shall buy, sell or have in his possession in Belize, fillet or diced conch meat other than market clean, except under a special permit issued by the Fisheries Administrator.
Regulation 6. (3) No person or establishment shall buy, sell or have in his possession diced conch meat except under a special permit issued by the Fisheries Administrator.

BFD’s Act 15(1), says that penalties should not exceed $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Persons found guilty of the offense can be charged per individual conch, which is normally around $50 per conch.

The BFD asks the general public to report any illegal fisheries activity by calling phone numbers 224-4552 or 223-2623. Emails can also be sent to [email protected]. Any information will be treated with the strictest of confidence.

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