After scientific studies revealed that conch stocks in Jamaica are in a degraded state, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw has prohibited queen conch fishing for one year. Other resources such as snapper, grouper, and parrot fish are also in danger due to illegal fishing and environmental factors.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says the Government has decided to close queen conch fishing for one year. The minister said the decision was made after the findings of the latest scientific research, which was conducted in November of last year, revealed that the conch stocks in Jamaica are in a degraded state, and quick action is needed to resolve the matter.
Shaw, speaking at a press briefing at his ministry in Kingston yesterday, said the closed season has already commenced and will now last until January 31, 2020.
He said that although there are cases of people currently selling conch, after the 21st of this month the selling of conch will be strictly prohibited, and persons in possession of the queen conch will have to declare the quantity that they are in possession of within 10 days.
“The depletion of the conch fishery has resulted from several factors but we are certain that illegal fishing is a major cause. We are, however, uncertain about other causes, which may include mortality from natural predators such as sharks, turtles, octopus, and other environmental factors,” Shaw said. He added: “The experts have told me that the state of the queen conch population portends what is in store for our other valuable resources such as spiny lobster and sea cucumber if we do not move expeditiously to decisively and effectively stamp out this problem.”
Shaw pointed out that Jamaica already has the glaring example of the much degraded status of its reef and reef-associated fin fish resources such as snapper, grouper, and the parrot fish. “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a global problem that has plagued both developing and developed countries. These problems are not new; they have been with us for decades, and they are not easy to fix nor are there any quick fixes,” Shaw said.
The minister contended that the matter at hand is a complex one that cannot be solved at the local level alone. Instead, he said, a comprehensive multi-pronged approach is needed. Shaw believes that the problem must be tackled on local, bilateral, regional and international levels. [. . .]
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