Pintard: Talks of a closed season for conch still in consultation stage

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Discussions of a possible closed season for conchs resurfaced once again, following a recent post that circulated on social media, which outlined the dates of a closed season for conch. And as the post created much feedback locally, many did not realize that the notice was for the island of Antigua and not the Bahamas.

In an effort to quell the concerns of many, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Michael Pintard told Eyewitness News earlier this week that his ministry is still in the consultative stage to determine if there should be a closed season for conchs.

“We will be travelling once again throughout the family islands with respect to conch, so I wouldn’t say definitively that a determination has been made [to implement a ban],” Pintard said. He noted, however, that the ministry has been discussing several other measures to improve the conservation of conch and prevent a ban.

One of these measures, Pintard said, was reducing the export quota for conchs.

“We have met with the commercial exporters of conch and clearly indicated that over a three-year period there is going to be a dramatic decrease in what is exported. We are working with a number of partners in terms of addressing the sports fishing issue and we are reviewing the catch limit,” Pintard revealed.

Meanwhile, as there are many proponents of the ban, some have also expressed that it would hurt their livelihood.

Deputy Prime Minister, Peter Turnquest, recently asked on Twitter if a ban would be supported. The post garnered almost 100 responses, which were mostly in support of the move.

Twitter user @ZoeRolle said, “We need it! Backlash is going to happen regardless (just like how people were against crawfish season), but it’s for the greater good.”

User @theproblem242 said, “I will support you on this one.”

A petition was also created on the website change.org called, “Implementation of a conch season in the Bahamas.”  The petition garnered approximately 6,902 signatures out of the 7,500 requested since last viewed on Thursday.

The petition said, “Recently there have been several reports predicting that the queen conch could soon disappear as a result of overfishing in The Bahamas. This petition is to propose that the government of the Bahamas implement a conch season opening October 1 and closing May 31 (closed June 1 – September 30). The closed months are documented as a part of the main reproductive period of the species.”

However, Directors at the Bahamas National Trust, Eric Carey and Sherry Woodside said yesterday that there is not much to worry about right now.

“We are not at that stage yet and we hope that some of the measures that we have recommended to government will be implemented and hopefully we can save our conch,” Carey said.

“It comes down to how well we are at managing the resource [and] if we are good at following these recommendations. The Bahamas National Trust very strongly believes that we will never need to have a season,” Woodside said.