#TurksandCaicosIslands – July 13, 2020 – The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) have commercially fished for Caribbean spiny lobster, Queen conch and various fin fish species as source of protein and income. The Queen conch continues to be one of the two major economically important fisheries for the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, throughout the Caribbean region, the Queen conch has been declining in abundance. The TCI is not immune to the limitations of the species and has therefore been taking steps to evaluate the population of the Queen conch in the TCI. The Department is expecting to conduct a visual assessment of the Queen conch on the Caicos Bank to assist in determining the current status of the species in the TCI.
Additionally, in late 2019, the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) collaborated with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to submit a proposal for the DARWIN PLUS (The Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund) for a project to obtain abundance information, local consumption patterns, biological data and trade restrictions specific to the Queen conch.
There has recently been local discussion and debate with regards to the current status of the Queen conch in the TCI. The DECR is aware of the most recent reduced catches and effort of Queen conch. It is noted over time the he changes in weather patterns and increase in adverse storms led to the adaptation of the Queen Conch to migrating to deeper waters and less adverse conditions. The visual survey to be conducted show will show these shifts and give a clearer insight into the adaptation of the Queen Conch.
However, additional review of the Caribbean spiny lobster has shown no decrease in spiny lobster catches or effort. As rough weather conditions lead fishers to seek the higher priced species that are also less labor intensive, information suggests that fishers are seeking spiny lobster with less demanding work and a higher financial gain.
As the Spiny lobster season closes at the end of February 2020, the DECR will be able to better ascertain if the conch landings effort and catches were based on weather, fisher selection or other activities. Again, the DECR is aware of the local, regional and international discussions regarding the species and is committed to a full evaluation to provide effective management measures to protect the nations resources.
TCIG PRESS RELEASE