Conch: Shaping a Sustainable Fishery Through Science
Presented by Frederick E. Arnett II
Frederick Arnett, Leander Lacy, Shiela M.W. Reddy, Felicity Burrows, and Shenique Albury-Smith
Throughout the Caribbean, the queen conch (Lobatus gigas formerly called Strombus gigas) is considered a precious marine resource. Fisheries managers, researchers and some community members recognize there is a decline in conch populations in both The Bahamas and regionally. This decline motivated a collective effort in The Bahamas by The Nature Conservancy, The Bahamas National Trust (BNT), the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and other conservation partners to improve sustainability of the conch fishery through the Conchservation Campaign. However, a major challenge to this effort is that little is known and documented about whether the general population of The Bahamas is aware of the status of the fishery, how they use and value conch, and whether they would support new conservation measures. To address this gap, a study of Bahamians’ knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) related to conch was executed through focus group meetings with the fishing community, expert interviews, and a national phone survey of the general population. The presentation will highlight the major findings of the KAP survey. Building upon the KAP Survey, The Nature Conservancy is now conducting an assessment of the national conch fishery. The assessment includes a comprehensive literature review to determine the status of queen conch in The Bahamas, a stakeholder analysis to determine the local economic market and consumer consumption rate of queen conch throughout The Bahamas and an evaluation of The Bahamas management structure for the queen conch to determine gaps and strategies to improve sustainability measures and management of the conch fishery while taking into consideration Bahamian livelihoods. The information produced from this assessment will give natural resource managers and decision-makers a better understanding of the status of The Bahamas conch populations given the demand for conch and threats affecting conch populations.