NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is examining the idea of implementing a closed season in order to ensure that the conch mollusk is not depleted, vice president of the Arawak Cay conch, fish and food vendors association, Lillian Smith, said she is against the idea.
“We are ready to fight and we will fight with pen and paper,” Smith said.
“We will sit with the environmentalists and with the ministers.
“We will have strong answers to their questions.
“We cannot allow for conch to go into a season, there’s plenty of conch… I don’t know who these scientists are, but they should have conducted their studies with local fishermen the first time.”
Smith also admitted that throughout the years, some fisherman, mainly poachers, have abused the process of catching conch.
“Some 15-plus years, we have had different types of fisherman in our waters. We’ve had persons going into the water and knocking out the conch shell [and leaving it there]. That is not the Bahamian fisherman’s way.”
Eyewitness News Online understands that the Ministry intends to look into other solutions like making sure that conch is harvested in a shell, limiting export, and prohibiting foreigners from fishing.
President the Arawak Cay conch, fish and food vendors association, Rodney Russell said if there is a closed season for conch, it would only open the door for more poachers to dominate Bahamian waters.
“Until we can control the natural resources in the country, then we should not be putting any natural resources into a situation where the Bahamian people cannot benefit,” Russell said.
Last week, Keith Carrol, vice chairman of The Bahamas Fishing Alliance also noted that if government is able to get a handle on poachers, the conch supply will no longer be threatened.
Fisheries officials also told Eyewitness News Online last week that they are satisfied with the preliminary stages of public consultation on the matter and expect to continue dialogue until all parties involved are able to chart a mutually beneficial solution.