The Daily News, I Friday, July9, 1994 16
Conch ban makes sense
This summer, Department of Q need to be mature enough, before
Planning and Natural Resources they are harvested, to have repro-
informed Virgin Islands fishermen duced.
they could not take conch in tenito- Olasee Queen Conch reach maturity
rial waters between July I and Sept. Davis when a flat broad surface appears
30. During the closed season, only on the shell. Sexual maturity of
canned or frozen conch can be sold. Queen Conch is at 3 to 3% years.
The ban is to protect the species Our environmet Adult conch live about six or seven
before it becomes extinct. PNR Ourennme years. During their breeding season.
officials have noticed a decline in b which is the warm months of the
the conch population here during Islands and other Caribbean islands, year, female conch lay about
those months, the conch mating the blowing of conch shell the used 400,Oeggs.
season. to tell us that fishermen were sell- Eggs hatch in five days and drift
Sad to say, conch pirates harvest ing conch and fish down by the sea with the current to feed on plank-
onch out of season and send them shore, tonic algae before they become
elsewhere to be frozen, canned. Nowadays, there are too many malljuvenile conch.
packedandshippedbacktotheiro empty concV shells along oir PNR closed the conch-fishing
gin Islands. shores. The problem is that conch easo a the height of conch breed-
Thehies Advisory Commit- are being overfished. The eating of ing months,to ensure that mature
tee decided the only way to deal conch has increased in recent yeas conch will reproduce undisturbed.
with this problem is to have a ban because of the booming tourist We ae all responsible for pro-
on imported conch, industry. Local consumption has tecting conch habitats. When PNR
Well, all hell broke loose, also increased considerably. enforcement officers check restau-
Restaurants and other businesses Thus, fishermen are forced to ant fish markets, or fishing boats,
related to the conch industry said provide more conch tomeetthe olyto ensureatthe law is
they will lose money. market demand. upheld.
But what about the habitats these Some fishermen don't realize, or the regulations a t intended th
marine animals live in? What about perhaps just ignore, the threat of ob them of a their alivelihood buto
the coral reef seagrass beds. man- local conch extinction. If we want r to ensue that their l livelihood but
grove forests, and other areas where to eat conch in the future we must Continues.meth atheInelh ood
these animals need in order to sur- regulate prohibit or restrict certain .
vive?Nooneis talking abouttlaL areas ofconch fishing. Let us not get too greedy and
The politicians whojumped so Adult Queen Conch is the shell Believeme, unless we protect
quickly to criticize PNR officials largest of the herbivorous eating the conch, them will be no fresh
and the Fisheries Advisory Com- gastropod mollusks. These marine tasty dish to enjoy.
mittee should recognize that habi- animals are often associated with
tats of conch need to be protected. seagrass beds in water 100or 200 Olasee Davis, who holds a mat-
Before the first European settled feet deep. Withthe high price for er of science degree i range man-
in the Caribbean, conch was a conch these days, many juvenile agement andforestry ecology, is a
source of food for Indians and was conchs are being fished because of St. Croix ecologist, activist and
, sacred object. In the Virgin the low level ofadult conch. Conch writer.