Govt. to decrease conch exports “marginally” this year
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While the government has already announced plans to marginally decrease the quote of conch exports this year and dramatically reduce exports in 2020 and 2021 in line with the advice of conservations, a survey from Bahamian market and opinion research firm Public Domain revealed that the majority of participants oppose a ban on the export of conch.
In total, 53.5 percent of the respondents either somewhat opposed (18.7 percent) or strongly opposed (34.7 percent) a ban on the export of conch from The Bahamas.
Public Domain conducted telephone interviews between May 26 and June 23, 2015.
It was commissioned by The Nature Conservancy.
One-thousand and one respondents throughout The Bahamas were interviewed: 729 in New Providence; 171 in Grand Bahama; 31 in Abaco and a combined 70 from other Family Islands.
Among respondents, 21.8 percent strongly favored an export ban on the food source; 8.5 percent somewhat favoured; and 14.3 percent were neutral.
Another 2.1 percent of respondents said they did not know.
A breakdown of responses by island, showed that while the majority of participants opposed the export ban of conch in New Providence and Grand Bahama, there was more support of such a measure in the Family Islands.
Among the 70 participants interviewed on the “Other Islands”, which included Acklins, Crooked and Ragged Islands, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Inagua, Mayaguana, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, 38.9 percent either strongly favoured or somewhat favoured a bank of conch exports; 18.9 percent were neutral.
Just under 15 percent of respondents in the “Other Islands” somewhat opposed; 24.3 percent strongly opposed; and 3.2 percent said they did not know.
In Abaco, a combined 36.7 percent of respondents either strongly favoured or somewhat favoured the idea of a conch export ban, while a combined 48.5 percent either somewhat opposed or strongly opposed.
Another 9.1 percent of respondents said they were neutral, and 5.8 percent said they did not know.
Of the 729 respondents in New Providence, 29.9 percent either strongly favoured or somewhat favoured the ban, compared to the combined 54.5 percent who either somewhat opposed or strongly opposed.
Another 13.9 percent of respondents were neutral, and less than two percent said they did not know.
In Grand Bahama, where 171 participants were interviewed, a combined 23.3 percent either strongly favoured or somewhat favoured the ban.
Similarly, to New Providence, 61.6 percent of respondents in Grand Bahama either strongly favoured or somewhat favoured the ban.
Meanwhile, 13.6 percent of respondents said they were neutral and another 1.4 percent said they did know.
There was widespread public debate about conch sustainability and its protection in January following a study that revealed a significant depletion of the queen conch population.
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, along with the group, Community Conch, measured more than 3,000 conch at 42 survey sites throughout The Bahamas over an eight-year period (2009-2017).
The survey, published in the scientific journal “Reviews in Fisheries and Science and Aquaculture”, determined that the density of mature conch was far below the established minimum threshold for reproductive success, except in remote areas.
It was commissioned by Community Conch, with the lead authors being Community Conch scientists and data between 2016 and 2017 being provided by Dr Andy Kough of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.
The scientists recommended The Bahamas establish a size limit for legal harvesting based on a 15-millimeter shell lip thickness, end the export of queen conch from The Bahamas and enforce the landing and trade of conch in the shell to improve enforcement.
While external factors including poachers have contributed to the depletion of a variety of fisheries products, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said in March that the ministry made a determination to “marginally reduce the quotas for export this year” and “dramatically reduce these exports in 2020 and 2021”.