2015 Conch Season is open!
Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
The 2015/2016 regular conch season of the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) officially opened as of Thursday, October 1st in Belize. Conch harvesting generates over millions of dollars annually into the country’s Fisheries Industry, which is a significant source of revenue for traditional fishermen. The season will run from October 1st until June 30th of the following year.
Last year the total revenue generated for Queen Conch was $8.87 million dollars, with a production of approximately 723,121 pounds. This total includes market clean conch and fillet conch. These figures revealed that revenue and production greatly were reduced when compared to last year, when production surpassed a million pounds and generated over $10 million dollars in revenue. It was estimated that around 10% of the conch harvested was consumed locally, following the mandatory law that 5% must stay in Belize.
The Belize Fisheries Department advice that only persons with a commercial Fisherman’s License are allowed to catch conch for commercial purposes. In an effort to protect the industry, the Department is suggesting that any establishments purchasing conch for consumption from the local market should request a legal commercial Fisherman’s License from the supplier. This practice will encourage fishermen to abide by the law. The general public is advised that at no time should any establishment have in their possession any diced conch meat. For conch flesh that has been processed as market clean, the weight should exceed three ounces, while filleted flesh which is completely processed white meat, should exceed 2.5 ounces. Respectively, the Queen Conch shell should exceed 7 inches in length.
Failure to follow these regulations as it pertains to illegal harvesting of conch or undersized conch is subjected to penalties. According to the Fisheries Act 15(1), penalties should not exceed $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Guilty persons of the offence may be processed by a judge to an individual charge per conch, which normally is around $50 per conch.
The Fisheries Department hereby advises the general public to abide by all the Fisheries Regulations while encouraging all responsible citizens to report any infractions by calling 224-4552/203-2623 or Crime Stoppers Belize at 0-800-922-TIPS (8477). Reports can also be made via email to [email protected] All information provided will be treated with strict confidentiality.
In San Pedro, like in the rest of the country, conch is a common staple in most restaurants menus during the open season. The conch meat is commonly prepared in ceviches, conch fritters, soups and even chowders.
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