Get real about our fishing resources
I was born and grew up in a fishing village, four of my brothers were fishermen, and so it is not surprising that I am a serious marine environmentalist.
And so I was disturbed, tending toward angry, when I read in The Guardian and The Tribune, the comments of the minister of marine resources, that there are lots of deep water conch that we are not exploiting.
The conch industry is under severe pressure and conservationists are discouraging the taking of the deep water conch, in order to protect the future of the industry. Come on, minister, get a true picture of the situation.
When I moved to Abaco in the late 1970s, there was an abundance of conch on the banks (inside the cays). These grounds have now been over-fished to the point that it is very difficult to get half dozen for a “scorch”.
The conch fishermen then moved to the area between the cays and the reef (deep water of 20 to 30 feet). Now that these areas have been over-fished, we have moved to the deeper water (up to 50 feet), and with compressors, are harvesting the mature breeding conch. This area will soon be over-fished.
I wish to finish by making a few recommendations to the Department of Marine Resources:
Stop the exportation of the conch. This recommendation has been made to government on many occasions.
Introduce a closed season.
Try and enforce the laws against illegal harvesting of juvenile conch.
I respectfully suggest that if these recommendations could be implemented, my nine-year-old grandson will still find a conch in Cherokee Sound when he reaches the age of 21.
– Patrick J. Bethel