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Jun 21, 2021

Conch Season Closed: Almost 3,000 Fishers to Benefit from Growing Season

Conch season officially closed last week on June eighteenth and will remain closed for the next three months. Mario Gongora, Fisheries Officer at the Belize Fisheries Department says the national quota for harvesting of nine hundred and fifty thousand pounds of conch was realized early this year.  He also gave us a rundown of the number of Belizeans whose livelihoods benefit from this seafood and a reminder about the fines you could face from having out of season conch in your possession.


Mario Gongora, Fisheries Officer, Belize Fisheries Department

“What it means really is that Belize is a country that is incompliance with our commitment to manage the Queen Conch fishery in a sustainable manner. And we appreciate the effort and contribution and work of the fishermen cooperatives, the organizations that represent the fishers, and the fishers themselves.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

While the public may miss having their favorite conch dishes like ceviche or fritters the closed season is crucial for sustaining the industry and the fishers who depend on Queen Conch.


Mario Gongora

“You will know that at the opening of the season, a lot of the conch that is landed, that is delivered at the fishermen Corp are large conch. And the reason for that is that during this three-month period it allows for good growth and development of the conch.  The number of fishers that are dependent directly on Conch fishing is somewhere around two thousand seven hundred fishers. And these are full-time fishers. These are not just part-time fishers. So, when you look at the overall picture, it is roughly around fifteen thousand Belizeans, the fishers plus their families that depend directly on conch fishing. So when you look for example at nine hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and you multiply that by ten dollars a pound, you are probably getting around nine point five million dollars that is generated from the conch fisheries.”


Overfishing the Queen Conch has actually caused countries like Mexico to keep its conch fishing season closed for an astonishing seven years. Jamaica’s conch fishing season has been closed for the past eighteen months. To avoid an extended closed season in Belize, all Belizeans are being advised to comply with the fisheries regulation. Fines are hefty.


Mario Gongora

“In terms of the individual fees or fine, there could be a fine, in addition to the penalties for illegal fishing, there could be a fine of anything between twenty to thirty dollars Belize per individual conch. So, if you are found with a hundred conch, that could really represent a two thousand dollars fine, for argument’s sake. By a large fishers comply with the fishers’ regulations, but you know, one or two fishers will attempt to do illegal fishing.   We want to ensure that fishers are aware, and that the general public is aware, that we will do everything we can to ensure the sustainability of the conch fishery.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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