Fisheries announces closed season for conch

A fisherman holds a freshly caught conch.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua Fisheries Department has announced closed season on conchs.

According to a press release from Chief Fisheries Officer, Cheryl Appleton, during the closed season no person shall fish for, take, place for sale, purchase, or have in his possession any conch between July 1st and August 31st.

Persons are also prohibited from stocking their freezers with the mollusk in the weeks leading up to the closed season.

Appleton is asking that fishermen refrain from overfishing the island’s conch supply in the weeks ahead of the closed season as this would defeat the purpose of the season entirely. Those found in possession of conch will also be considered in violation of the ordinance.

Any one found in breach of the regulation is subject to a fine amounting to no more than EC $50, 000.

Closed seasons aim to combat overfishing by ensuring that local marine species are able to spawn, thereby sustaining the species. One variety in particular, the queen conch is listed internationally as an endangered species.

The queen conch’s abundance is declining region-wide due to over-fishing for purposes of human consumption as well as fish bait.

The Fisheries Division suggests the diamond back squid as a substitute for conch during the closed season.