Queen Conch Season officially opens in Belize
Friday, October 1st, 2021
Amid a world health crisis, Belizeans have one thing to be happy about as of Friday, October 1st. It is not Halloween, but one of the most anticipated seasons of the year the opening of the Strombus Gigas or commonly known as the Queen Conch. It is one of the main seafood staples in the country and a leading export product. The season will remain open until June 30, 2022, or until the yearly set production quota is met.
The last report from the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) on the 2019-2020 season indicated that the quota was set at 925,000 pounds. It is unknown what the quota for 2021-2022 will be. The BFD informs the public, in particular fishermen, of the regulations to be followed when fishing for the Queen Conch.
The shell length of harvested conchs must exceed seven inches, and the market clean and fillet weigh should be over three and 2.75 ounces, respectively. Fisher-folk is reminded that it is their civic duty to be responsible and use proper methods to ensure the Queen Conch population continues in its current healthy stage for future generations.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve in San Pedro Town warns fishermen/customers not to buy, sell, have fillet or diced conch meat other than market clean conch. Restaurants should not have fillet or diced conch unless it is being prepped for immediate serving or cooking. Hol Chan adds that persons who fish for conch must have a valid commercial fisher folk license and the vessel must be licensed with the BFD.
Penalties include a fine of $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both fine and imprisonment. In the case of illegal harvesting, a person found guilty of the offense can be charged per individual conch, 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.
Please help support Local Journalism in Belize
For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.Click to Donate