(Photo courtesy Wikimedia)
During our trip to the Western Caribbean, we encountered checkpoints, particularly in the Costa Maya area, checking for Queen Conch.
The major food source in the Caribbean has been overfished, and is therefore protected. In the Costa Maya area, we were informed a five year hiatus has been enacted. The recovery of important resources has been progressing.
In 1990, the Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) included queen conch in Annex II of its Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol) as a species that may be used on a rational and sustainable basis and that requires protective measures. Because of this recognition, the United States proposed queen conch for listing in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1992; this proposal was adopted, and queen conch became the first large-scale fisheries product to be regulated by CITES.
Since 1995, CITES has been reviewing the biological and trade status of queen conch under its Significant Trade Review process. Significant Trade Reviews are undertaken when there is concern about levels of trade in an Appendix II species. The Queen Conch Significant Trade Review is available from CITES. Based on this review, CITES recommended that all countries prohibit the importation of queen conch from Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic (see Standing Committee Recommendations from CITES). Queen conch continues to be available from many other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands (British West Indies), which have well-managed queen conch fisheries.
Using up our marine resources is a very real danger and our food supplies need careful husbanding.