THE Bahamas National Trust (BNT) has received a third $50,000 grant from The Moore Bahamas Foundation (MBF) to support its work to protect the rapidly declining population of the iconic Queen Conch.
This is the third year that funding from the Foundation is supporting the partnership betweenthe BNT, the government, corporate Bahamas and the conservation community which has formed the Conchservation Campaign. This year’s donation brings the total of the MBF’s grants to $150,000 in the campaign to protect the conch population from depletion.
The Conchservation Campaign was formed in response to the startling results of research showing that traditional Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) fishing grounds in The Bahamas were showing signs of possible collapse, according to BNT Executive Director Eric Carey.
“It is important to remember that we still have an opportunity to maintain viable conch fishery but we must develop a strategy that we can realistically police and we must conduct an education program to demonstrate why it is so critical that we do not deplete our conch population. We need to learn from Florida and Bermuda where the conch fisheries collapsed in the 1970s and despite full closure to fishing, have yet to recover,” said Mr Carey. “A parallel demise for the Bahamian Queen Conch fishery would devastate the nation ecologically, economically, and culturally.”
The Conchservation Campaign aims to prevent this outcome for the Bahamian fishery through research, education, and multi stakeholder collaboration.
The Queen Conch, commonly used to make conch salad and other dishes, plays a major role in the marine food web and loss of the Conch fishery would be detrimental to endangered and vulnerable species like sharks, turtles and spotted eagle rays that feed on conch, as well as hermit crabs, damselfishes and other opportunists that use the shell of dead conchs as a habitat. In addition, the loss of the fishery would hugely impact the economy and the livelihood of countless Bahamians who rely on harvesting and sale of conch as an important source of income.
The Queen conch is also an essential cultural symbol uniting all islands of The Bahamas and the high demand by visitors greatly benefits the countries tourism economy.
“The Moore Bahamas Foundation has graciously supported Conchservation from its inception,” said Mr Carey, “because they understand and appreciate the significance of the Queen Conch to The Bahamas. This year’s renewed support will allow the Bahamas National Trust to continue its campaign through 2016. The Moore Bahamas Foundation provides support through Bahamas National Trust Fund Inc., a US 501c3 public charity.
“The Moore Bahamas Foundation responded immediately and effectively to the Conchservation Campaign with a pledge of $150,000 over three years. This support has underpinned the campaign, providing important funding to get the campaign off and running. When we are successful in our efforts to save this iconic species from extinction, The Moore Bahamas Foundation will deserve significant credit for its visionary investment in the Conchservation campaign.”
Louis Bacon, Founder and Chairman of The Moore Charitable Foundation of which the MBF is a local affiliate, said: “We are proud to partner with Bahamas National Trust as they take key next steps in their campaign to preserve the iconic Queen Conch. Our multifaceted partnership brings to light the wide range of communities impacted by the health of this seminal species and the importance of their fight to protect it.”