In Focus: Conch-servation

What is the Conchservation Campaign?
Conchservation is a national campaign whose ultimate goal is a sustainable queen conch industry in The Bahamas.  Elsewhere in the region, queen conch numbers are so low that they are said to be commercially extinct: there might be conch in the water; but nowhere near enough to make money from them.

The Conchservation Campaign seeks to bring together researchers, government agencies, non-governmental agencies, concerned, private entities and most importantly, the Bahamian public to share information, and to both give and receive feedback on what might be the best practices to ensure that The Bahamas, and our guests, continue to enjoy conch dishes and curios, and the income they generate. More can be found on Conchservation, including bits of conch history, at www.facebook.com/conchservation.


Why do we need Conchservation?
Harvesting juvenile conch, sometimes called rollers, is a common practice in The Bahamas.  Each juvenile conch taken is potentially thousands of new conchs that will never be.

Surveys of conch grounds at numerous locations in The Bahamas indicate a decline in the number of queen conchs.  When the number of conch in an area decreases, they are less likely to find mates.  One such area near Les Stocking Island in the Exumas has seen a 91% decrease in the number of conch per hectare between 1991 and 2011.

Queen conch is important to The Bahamas as a cultural icon and also as a source of income.  Conch fishing in The Bahamas is worth 4-5 million dollars annually.

Conch fisheries in Florida and other parts of the Caribbean have collapsed mainly due to over fishing. 

The Bahamas is one of few places that still has a viable conch fishery so there is a market to export conch from The Bahamas to other parts of the world.  This increases fishing pressure on wild conch stocks in the country.

The Bahamas is an archipelago that spans approximately 100,000 square miles of ocean.  There are limited resources and manpower to police marine resources in the country.  Each person should develop personal conservation strategies for queen conch, and other marine resources.


Who are the Conchservation Partners/Sponsors? (In alphabetical order)
  The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources is a government agency within the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Local Government.  It is the government agency tasked with management of marine resources in The Bahamas with a particular focus on sustainable development of the fishing industry. 
The Bahamas National Trust was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of the Bahamas.  BNT’s mission is to protect and conserve the natural resources of The Bahamas, through stewardship and education, for present and future generations.   
The Bahamian Public.  Given the geography of an archipelago and the limits on resources for policing the approximately 100,000 square miles of ocean that are The Bahamas, any effort to conserve a marine resource ultimately falls into the hands of the Bahamian People.  Through them, and their education of visitors to our shores, everyone can adopt personal conservation strategies that will help to ensure that conch, and other resources remain for use in the future. 
The Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation was founded in 1993 by the late Sir Nicholas Nuttall to address growing concerns about the state of The Bahamas’ marine environment.  BREEF’s mission is to promote a sustainable relationship between the people of The Bahamas, its visitors, and the marine environment. 

Bamboo Shack & Frankie Gone Bananas were founded by Mrs. Elaine Pinder and has become a fixture in Bahamian society.  There are few Bahamians who don’t have the words ‘Bamboo Shack’ in their mind when they think of eating conch dishes.  Their Arawak Cay restaurant, Frankie Gone Bananas, continues that tradition in a place that has become synonymous with conch.  The use of the premises at Frankie Gone Bananas for this launch is just one of the company’s efforts to better the lives of Bahamians while they continue to provide authentic Bahamian cuisine. 
Burns House is the distributor for Kalik, a local beer.  Few Bahamians think of a scorched conch or conch salad and don’t imagine it being served with a Kalik beer.  Conch and Kalik go hand in hand.   One might say that Kalik has just as much interest in keeping conch around as our Bahamian fishermen and those that enjoy it. 
The Cape Eleuthera Institute is a public non-profit charitable 501(c)3 corporation. The Foundation has a Board of Directors and operates fully independently of other organizations in support of its mission: to provide charitable funding support for education, scientific research, community leadership, and sustainable technologies. 
Community Conch is a nonprofit organization that aims to protect queen conchs in the Bahamas. Their goal is to promote sustainable harvest of queen conch through research, education and community-based conservation.  
Friends of The Environment was founded in 1988 in Abaco, The Bahamas and works to protect Abaco’s terrestrial and marine environments in order to achieve sustainable living for the wildlife and people of Abaco. 
  Harbourside Marine is one of, if not the largest supplier of marine supplies in The Bahamas.  The company was founded in 2000 and has a vested interest in conserving the habitats and life in the water of The Bahamas. 
The Moore Charitable Trust was founded by Lewis Bacon in 1992.  The foundation provides funding to local, regional and national conservation organizations. 
The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit, non-governmental agency whose mission is to conserve the lands and water upon which all life depends and whose vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations. 
The Sandals Foundation seeks to fulfill the promise of the Caribbean through investment in sustainable projects in education, environment, and community which improve people’s lives and preserve natural surroundings. 
The Shedd Aquarium is based in Chicago, Illinois, USA and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and by the Association of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.  Their mission is to use the animals under their care to connect people to the living world and to inspire them to protect it.