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'Ban conch fishing on Anegada for 5 to 10 years' - Kelly Faulkner

- Shortage felt @ this year’s Anegada Lobster Festival
This mound of conch on Anegada was built up over hundreds of years. There has been a call by several persons on Anegada for government to ban the fishing of one the territory’s delicacy meat, the Anegada conch, over fears the conch population may be dwindling dangerously low due to overfishing and other factors. Photo: Shutterstock/Fianna Fluess
While there were plenty of lobsters to sample at the 2019 Anegada Lobster Festival, there was a significant shortage of conch. Photo: VINO
While there were plenty of lobsters to sample at the 2019 Anegada Lobster Festival, there was a significant shortage of conch. Photo: VINO
On Thursday, November 21, 2019, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) said the supply of conch on Anegada should not be allowed to get dangerously low as in Florida and Bahamas. Photo: VINO/File
On Thursday, November 21, 2019, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) said the supply of conch on Anegada should not be allowed to get dangerously low as in Florida and Bahamas. Photo: VINO/File
Kelly Faulkner, a diver, fisherman and tour operator on the Sister Island of Anegada, said a five to ten-year ban on conch fishing is needed. Photo: Team of Reporters
Kelly Faulkner, a diver, fisherman and tour operator on the Sister Island of Anegada, said a five to ten-year ban on conch fishing is needed. Photo: Team of Reporters
SETTING POINT, Anegada, VI- There has been a call by several persons on Anegada for government to ban the fishing of one the territory’s delicacy meat, the Anegada conch, over fears the conch population may be dwindling dangerously low.

During the Anegada Lobster Festival held over the past weekend, few restaurants offered the meat and- for those who did have it- said it was in limited amounts. Scarcity means the price for conch has escalated, in fact, since following the 2017 hurricane season.

While noting there may be several reasons for the shortage of conch on Anegada, several persons were strongly of the opinion government needs to immediately put a ban on the fishing of conch at Anegada.

‘Ban conch fishing for 5 to 10 years’- Anegada fisherman

Kelly Faulkner, a diver, fisherman and tour operator on the Sister Island, said that a five to ten-year ban is needed. “We need to try and get a ban on it to keep a future…I definitely recommend a five to ten years ban.”

While acknowledging such a lengthy ban would have an effect on the fishing industry, Mr Faulkner said: “But at the same time they have to look at it as preserving it for the next generation.”

“In my general opinion from what I see and observe is that over time some fishermen would dive and not take into consideration the size of shells that they are taking. Some will take young shells and when the do it causes a ripple effect for the future growth of the conch,” said Mr Faulkner.

He also said that in conversation with some of the fishermen he was told, “After Irma a lot of the conch got buried. There have been a few theories but regardless of all the theories on it we don’t want to end up like Bahamas.”

In January of this year, the National Geographic Explorer had reported that the conch population in the Bahamas was at risk of being wiped out in 10 years due to overfishing.

Conchs were also once prolific in the Florida Keys, but overfishing and commercial harvesting caused the fishery to collapse in 1975. Aruba, Bermuda, Costa Rica, and Haiti conch fisheries have also perished from overexploitation, and many others are considered overfished as well.

In March of this year, the Government of Jamaica decided to close queen conch fishing for close to one year (to reopen in January 2020), stating that latest scientific research, which was conducted in November of 2018, revealed that the conch stocks in Jamaica were in a degraded state, and quick action was needed to resolve the matter.

Why 5 year ban?

Meanwhile, Mr Faulkner said the suggested timeframe for the ban is based on the fact that it takes approximately five years for a conch to grow to the size for fishing.

Like sentiments were expressed by one of the largest restaurants on the island, Big Bamboo. “The only thing we are missing this season is conch,” said one of Big Bamboo’s Chefs who chose to only be referred to as “Bagga”.

“I think they should put a close on it for a minute. I think that five years would be good because as you can see normally conchs would be the number one seller, along with lobster during Lobster Fest, but we cannot get any so it’s a problem right now.”

‘There is something happening out there’- Hon Vincent O. Wheatley

At the launch of the Blue Economy Accelerator Laboratory held on Thursday, November 21, 2019 Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) said there was a scarcity of conch last year, something he described as worrying.

“In Anegada last year the conch stock was very, very low. Fishing folks had to go very deep to get limited amounts of conch. There is something happening out there that I think we should all be very interested in,” he said.

Whilst stating the importance of the conch, which is a local delicacy, Hon Wheatley said the supply should not be allowed to get dangerously low as in Florida and Bahamas.

21 Responses to “'Ban conch fishing on Anegada for 5 to 10 years' - Kelly Faulkner”

  • Musa if all of us become vegetarian (04/12/2019, 15:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Freedom
  • Stop It (04/12/2019, 15:45) Like (20) Dislike (1) Reply
    What you expect if they keep catching the dam juvenile ones.Same dam problem with the airport side VG,dam filipinos cleaning out the dam place.
    • Wait for it (04/12/2019, 17:52) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
      The lobsters might be next. Just the other day, some fishermen caught a lot of the small ones and were selling them....some people are just money hungry
    • Guest (04/12/2019, 17:53) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
      Them and a set of Guyanese what would take things the size of a finger nail...
  • Sea It Clear BVI (04/12/2019, 15:49) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    As a local. If we don’t take serious measures we will suffer in the longer run. The reasons fisherman and woman been able to catch sea life today is because our grandfather and their father wasn’t greedy with the ocean like some of today’s fisherman or fisherwoman. With zero respect for the environment especially the said ocean that’s providing for them/ us. The island of Bahamas predicted that by 2040 they will have to import Conch. If fisherwoman and fishermen was leaving the conch in close season it will help. Sadly they don’t respect the laws.

    For us to actually survive we need to come out of this selfish mindset and look at the bigger picture. Look at the actual facts of data. What we need to do is set up farms. Conch farms, turtles farms, lobster farms. We can’t save what’s already extinct, but we can prevent them from being coming endangered. The BVI had seals and Sea Cows At one point. We had this mindset they’re not going to die out and will always being around etc. we most actually think different and makes moves that will benefit our grandchildren children. We can’t be selfish the ocean has provide for us for years.
  • True (04/12/2019, 15:57) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    where I agree with what he is saying, its HIM who lifts Conch and LOBSTER out of season to show tourists and even has people on Tripadvisor stating this and has been reported on several occasions to Fisheries .
  • True (04/12/2019, 16:01) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    The conch shortage is due to massive amounts being lifted at the end of the 2017 season and sent to Puerto Rico & Guyana then the hurricanes came and nothing has been right since. It also does not help people taking Conch and Lobster out of season to entertain their guests on tours.
  • Agree (04/12/2019, 16:45) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Like the lobster served last week-end all come from Anegada....
  • and (04/12/2019, 17:00) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Don’t forget the whelks too.
  • E. Leonard (04/12/2019, 17:20) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    This sounds like a Tragedy of the Commons situation. Investopedia defines Tragedy of the Commons as: The tragedy of the commons is an economic problem in which every individual has an incentive to consume a resource at the expense of every other individual with no way to exclude anyone from consuming. It results in overconsumption, under investment, and ultimately depletion of the resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits. Generally, the resource of interest is easily available to all individuals; the tragedy of the commons occurs when individuals neglect the well-being of society in the pursuit of personal gain.

    An increasing population, coupled with increasing visitors, increased the demand for conch, a VI delicacy. Typically, when a demand for a resource outpaces the supply, eventually there is a depletion of the resource. To protect the supply, a moratorium on harvesting conch is needed urgently. We can learn from the experiences of other locales. Should the moratorium be 5 or 10? That is a decision for government and stakeholders. There is a moratorium on turtles, lobsters, certain fish.....etc so a moratorium on conch is a practical and reasonable action. No doubt there will be some pain and challenges for fisher folks.
    • Cry for the Country (05/12/2019, 07:32) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      It is a tragedy of commons, like lobster and fisheries in the BVIs, yet some wags want to create/expand a fisheries industry. We build where we want, we don't factor in run-off, septic issues. We have appalling waste management practices. Where those things are a problem, we don't do anything about it. There does not appear to be a sense of Territory above self, and we'd rather deplete our resources today instead of finding ways to sustain what we do have. The BVIs is not socially cohesive, and is fragmented. There is no collective national psyche to create national pride. We could be, if we wanted to, the most sustainable, cleanest set of islands, but we're not, and don't collectively seem to care. True leadership, IMHO, is about taking the nation forward, but here leadership (especially political) tends to be seen as an opportunity for money grab. Tragic wasted opportunities in the interests of worshipping Mamon.
  • SMH (04/12/2019, 18:57) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The B family taking all a dem to make roti conch, ship them out to Indonesia
  • NezRez (04/12/2019, 19:42) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    I agree with putting a stop to conch fishing for 5 to 10 years. People can eat something else. A lot of that area can be cleaned very quickly if the Government would allow us locals to take these shells away by the truck fulls. They would beautify our yards, showing visitors what we have in the sea, but not fishing any of them again for a very long time.
  • Worrier (04/12/2019, 23:12) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Anegadians unite and take ur island back
    Stop the foreigners from depleting ur lively hood.do what u have to ,to protect ur way of life.dknt say we can't we can stand up and fight.
    • SMH (05/12/2019, 07:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      You mean take back their island as doing a don’t care act of just doing or doing with a positive cause? Some reasons I don’t want to join and fight with you...
  • Hmmmm (05/12/2019, 07:25) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    3 to 5 yrs is long. Maybe 18 months. And make it a crime to catch and sell Lobster under a pound and do the same for conch..
  • ... (05/12/2019, 10:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    free up the water and the things in them
  • Norris Turnbull (06/12/2019, 00:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The need becomes a greed in the bvi.

  • Diaspora (06/12/2019, 06:28) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Greed, selfish exploitation and acting in self-interest, not in th best interest, poses an existential threat to the sustainability of the conch population of Anegada. The BVI must learn from the experiences of Aruba, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Bahamas, Southern Florida........etc. As E. Leonard noted, it is indeed a Tragedy of the Commons situation. Government must intervene, for without its quick and strong action this shared resource will be exploited almost to extinction. The greedy will exploit this delicacy to the detriment of all. The same quick and strong action must be taken in regards to turtle, lobster, fish, whelks.......etc. Self policing has failed miserably; greed will always prevail. Unfortunately, too many of us are just concern about now, about today and say to hell with tomorrow and the next generation. This attitude is observable in regards to mangrove, wetlands, ponds, beaches/sand, reefs, archaeological/historical/cultural sites, bird nesting and roosting sites.........etc. The BVI was left once as a poverty stricken place and only useful as a bird sanctuary. Well, on its current course, it will be a concrete jungle where everything is imported. These are the serious issues that government should be addressing instead of running around trying to chase every shiny objects. Focus on the critical issues first, ie, health, education, economy, environment......etc.
  • RealPol (06/12/2019, 15:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    @Diaspora, real talk. Look at the pile; an attraction with a cost. What can be done with them? Crush dem up and used as a road base for roads.


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