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Editorial: Don’T Let Profit Kill Our Conch

Imagine a Bahamas without conch.

That’s the prospect the country faces – and it’s not a new warning.

In January, the Shedd Aquarium group warned the country’s conch supply could be wiped out in as little as ten years after surveying 42 sites across The Bahamas.

Theirs hasn’t been the only warning. In response, BREEF executive director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said the organisation has been sounding the alarm for decades, and that Queen Conch populations had collapsed in the region.

Back in 2012, The Tribune reported a warning from Bahamas National Trust executive director Eric Carey that conch stocks faced extinction if harvesting levels continued as they were. Out of that warning came the Conchservation campaign. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have taken hold with fishermen and vendors in Grand Bahama.

Almost as one, they turn their noses up at the idea of conch being at risk – and universally snubbing the idea of a closed conch season.

They shrug off the scientific evidence – even one man who admits “yeah, we have to go a little further for conch now” rejects the idea of a shortage. We are tempted to say there are none as blind as those who will not see.

We understand this is people’s livelihood. We understand that if there is a closed season, it will impact them as they have to find other ways to make ends meet.

But extinction is just that – gone. Forever. And it could happen in as little as a decade.

What then for those who would make their living from conch? What then for a tradition deeply rooted in The Bahamas?

Fishermen in the Grand Banks never thought cod supplies would crash – until they did. Hunters of the rhinoceros were trying to feed their families – until their weren’t rhinos to hunt any more.

This willful blindness shows exactly why the government needs to step in if stocks are in danger – those who don’t believe that stocks are dwindling aren’t going to regulate themselves.

Let the evidence lead the way – and make sure any changes are strongly enforced – or else we might not get to enjoy a Bahamian conch salad in future at all.

A startling statistic - and an opportunity to change

It’s a startling figure – fewer than one in ten Bahamians can swim to save their lives.

That’s the figures according to Algernon Cargill, president of the Bahamas Swimming Federation, and those figures are put into keen focus by the six deaths by drowning this month alone.

He is calling for a national programme to teach people how to swim – and he’s right. So let’s take it seriously and put a real effort together.

We call on Lanisha Rolle, the Minister of Sport, to partner with her colleague at the Ministry of Education, Jeff Lloyd, to launch a campaign to get people swimming.

If only one in ten can swim to save their lives, those who can’t swim aren’t going to be taking the next generation to the beach to learn – and so the problem goes on down the years. Access to the opportunity to learn how to swim – and that’s where the government can come in.

Let’s put in the resources needed to get children swimming. We live on islands, after all – why should they be denied the chance to swim in the waters we boast to the world about?

It will need transport, and it will need tutors – but it will save people’s lives. If we can change one generation’s inability to swim, it will pay off for decades too.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if it might unearth a future Olympic champion too? Over to you, Mrs Rolle.

Comments

Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

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JackArawak 2 months, 1 week ago

I am not a scientist, but IMHO conch needs to (1) stop all export asap. (2) close conch entirely for 5 to 10 years. (3) implement proper seasons, bag limits and enforcement. Sadly, I see none of that happening. I see the government fumbling ineffectively for several years and conch going away like they did in the Florida Keys. Very very sad.

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

With everything that is dumped in the ocean I don’t eat seafood anymore. I used to love conch salad. I would go down to the boat docks and make it right there. I don’t think I would do that anymore. At least if you cook it the germs are killed.

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 1 week ago

Arctic ice and Greenland is melting ........ there will be no glaciers left soon ........ much less conch.

Time to start conch farms across the country and set up a BNT "conch park" to conserve mature conch stocks to harvest their eggs to replenish the conch farms ......... A brand new industry for Bahamians to invest in.

Pintard cannot keep "talking" with ignorant shortsighted conchmen and vendors ......... He has to act now or he (and WE) will regret it next decade.

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Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

Great comments and observations.sheeprunner12

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pablojay 2 months, 1 week ago

On every occasion that i take my family for a drive to West End,Grand Bahama,i see divers at the bayside cleaning conch, taken from their boats, in small coolers ,because the shells were much too small to bring ashore.Some of those conchs were so small that the average man could close his hand with two or three conchs in it ask you to guess what is in his hand.

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pablojay 2 months, 1 week ago

On every occasion that i take my family for a drive to West End,Grand Bahama,i see divers at the bayside cleaning conch, taken from their boats, in small coolers ,because the shells were much too small to bring ashore.Some of those conchs were so small that the average man could close his hand with two or three conchs in it ask and you to guess what is in his hand.

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 1 week ago

Is there a direct correlation between size of conch meat and a mature shell? Are there species of small Queen conch? ........ Just asking.

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mandela 2 months, 1 week ago

In such situations like these, this is the time when real governance is needed, smart governance is needed, to ask a fisherman if his fish is fresh, is a waste of time, this is no time to ask questions or take a survey from fishermen or the general public, or to be afraid of a decision that may not be popular and be afraid it may cost votes come, 2022, real governance, smart governance would do what is needed to ensure that in the long run, the future, things like this will be secured regardless of whether they are in power or not

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BMW 2 months, 1 week ago

Mandela you are spot on! I was very suprised to read that they were canvassing the "stakeholders" for their input. They need to act NOW

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DDK 2 months, 1 week ago

Sadly, most of the politicians, most of the time, the world over, think only of getting re-elected, to serve themselves, NOT their constituents or their country and are VERY short-sighted. This lot is CERTAINLY no exception.........

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