Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Queen Conch and Stone Crab seasons opening on Sunday, October 1st in Belize

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On Sunday, October 1st, the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) and the Florida Stone Crab (Menippe mercenaria) fishing seasons officially open. In the case of the Stone Crab, of which only the claws are harvested, the season will close on June 30, 2024, while the Queen Conch closing season is the same as the Stone Crab’s. The season will close if the conch production quota is filled earlier.
The quota for the Queen Conch over the years continues to be around 925,000 pounds. Conch is one of the main seafood staples in Belize and a leading export product. The marine product is a delicacy and a favorite snack or meal for visitors and Belizeans. Queen Conch makes some of the most popular dishes, including ceviche, conch soup, and conch fritters. As of this Sunday, these anticipated dishes will be available at the various restaurants in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye.

Queen Conch meat

Some rules are in place to guarantee its sustainability to ensure we can enjoy this delicacy each year. As a result, the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) issued a reminder regarding the regulations controlling the fishing and possession of the Queen Conch.
According to the Department, these are some of the rules:
(1) No person shall fish, buy, sell, or have in his possession-
(a) any conch between the July 1st to September 30th, inclusive, in any year.
(b) (i)At any time, conch the overall shell length of which does not exceed 7 inches (17.8
centimetres)
(ii) the weight of unprocessed conch taken which does not exceed 7 1⁄2 ounces (213 grams);
(iii) the weight of partially processed (market clean) conch taken which does not exceed 3
ounces (85 grams)
(iv) the weight of fully processed (fillet) conch taken which does not exceed 2 3⁄4 ounces (78
grams).
(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.
(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.
(4) No person shall export or attempt to export conch more than any quota granted in accordance
with the Fisheries Resources Act.
The harvesting of Stone Crab for their claws is another fisheries industry in Belize that continues in demand. According to the BFD, the quota is much less than the Queen Conch at just 20,000 pounds of crab claws per season. As for harvesting the Stone Crab, the BFD emphasized that only the claws are used, and the crab is to be released. The claw usually grows back in a couple of months.
BFD asks fishers and the public to follow the following regulations:
1) A person who intends to fish or export stone crab shall apply to the Fisheries Administrator
for a stone crab fishing or export license.
2) A person who intends to fish for the stone crab using a trap shall apply to the Fisheries
Administrator for authorization.
3) No person is authorized to take stone crab using a plastic trap, unless the
trap has:
a) An escape gap of the aperture of not less than 2 3/8 inches along one side of the trap,
other than the mouth; and
b) A biodegradable panel
4) No person shall fish, sell, display, offer for sale, buy, or have in his possession any stone crab
during the period from 1st July to 30th September. A person licensed to fish for stone crabs may
set a trap in the fisheries waters of Belize from September 15th, but is not allowed to harvest
any crab.
5) No person shall retain on board, tranship, store, sell, display, offer for sale, buy, or have in
possession:
a) Claws with a propodus length of less than 3 inches; and
b) The carapace or body of a stone crab
6) Any person who catches a stone crab shall release it into the sea immediately after the claw
has been removed from the area it was caught.
7) No person shall use any device for taking stone crabs that can puncture, crush or injure the
body of a stone crab.
8) No person shall fish for the stone crab unless equipped with a ruler or caliper on-board the
vessel.
The Fisheries Department advises the Public to report any illegal fisheries activity by calling the telephone number 224-4552 or by emailing [email protected].

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