2019-2020 Queen Conch Season Officially Opens; Know the Fishing Rules

Tuesday, October 1st, officially marked the beginning of the 2019-2020 fishing season of the Queen Conch (Strombus Gigas). The season closed on April 30th, and after six months, fishermen across the country are once again allowed to harvest one of the most significant sources of revenue in the fishing industry. Conch is a staple across Belize, prepared in dishes like ceviche, soups, and fritters among others.

queenconchThis seafood generates millions of dollars for Belize, and the season usually runs for approximately seven months or until the conch quota set for that period has been met, whichever comes first.

During this new season, the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) would once again like to advise the public on the regulations regarding the fishing and handling of the Queen Conch. The shell must exceed seven inches in length, and establishments cannot have diced conch meat in their possession. As for conch flesh processed as market clean, the weight should exceed three ounces, while filleted flesh, which is completely processed white meat, should exceed 2.75 ounces.

Those who fail to follow these regulations will have penalties levied against them

According to the Fisheries Act 15(1), penalties should not exceed $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Persons found guilty of the offense can be charged per individual conch, which is normally around $50 per conch.

The 2019 -2020 Queen Conch season is set to close on June 30, 2020, or when they reach the national quota. The department further reminds everyone that closed seasons are essential as they coincide with reproductive seasons. It is a critical time for the population of conchs to recuperate and recover. Without this protection, these species would most certainly disappear within our area, not only having a detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem but diminishing the livelihood of local fisherfolk and culinary tourism.

Courtesy of The San Pedro Sun