Saturday, April 20, 2024

Conch season opens October 1st in Belize

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The Queen Conch season officially opens from October 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. The Belize Fisheries Department reminds the public that although the closing month for the season isn’t until June 2023, if the conch production quota is realized earlier, the season will be declared closed. In recent years, that quota has been set at 925,000 pounds.
The Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) is one of the main seafood staples in Belize and a leading export product. It is a delicacy and a favorite snack or meal for visitors and Belizeans. Some of the most popular dishes include ceviche, conch soup, and conch fritters. Restaurants in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, are preparing this delicious seafood meal, which they omitted from their menu during the closed season from July to the end of September.
The fisheries department issued a reminder regarding the regulations controlling the fishing and possession of the Queen Conch. According to the Department, the Fisheries Regulation, which relates to Queen Conch, states the following:
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 of July and the 30th of September, inclusive, in any year; (b) (i) at any time, conch the overall shell length of which does not exceed 7 inches (17.8 centimeters); 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 grams).
Possession of conch
Regulation 6. (2) says that no fisherman shall buy, sell, or have in his possession fillet or diced conch meat other than market clean, except under a special permit issued by the Fisheries Administrator.
Regulation 6. (3) states that 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.
Penalties include a fine of $500, 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, usually around $50 per conch.
The Belize Fisheries Department advises the public to report any illegal fisheries activity by calling telephone numbers: 224-4552 or 223-2623 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected]. The public is assured that all information communicated to the Fisheries Department will be treated with the strictest of confidence.

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