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#448678 - 10/13/12 01:05 PM USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened
Marty Offline

USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened or endangered

Caribbean Ministers discuss conch petition, management of flyingfish, and common fisheries policy for CARICOM during Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2012 in Antigua and Barbuda

A United States petition submitted this March to list the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) as a threatened or endangered species, the status of the implementation of a common fisheries policy for CARICOM, and the joint action plan and Belize Declaration signed this September in the historic joint meeting of Central American and Caribbean fisheries Ministers will be priority items on the agenda of the upcoming 3rd Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

The special forum, to be chaired by The Bahamas, is being held to coincide with the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which will be observed from October 14 to 20, under the theme: “Celebrating Youth and Gender in Caribbean Agriculture – Each Endeavoring, All Achieving.”

Seventeen Ministers from across the Caribbean are expected to converge at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, for the meeting slated for Thursday, October 18, 2012.

On the sidelines of Thursday’s gathering, 8 Ministers who sit on the CRFM’s ministerial subcommittee on flyingfish will also convene their first meeting, also to be chaired by The Bahamas, as they discuss the recommendations of the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) case study which looks into policy, legal frameworks and institutional investments in the flyingfish fishery - the single most important small pelagic fishery in the southern Lesser Antilles. The subcommittee will also review the report of the 1st meeting of the CRFM/WECAFC Working Group on the flyingfish fishery in the Eastern Caribbean.

Due to concerns about overfishing, the CRFM is working with the region to implement management plans for sustainable harvesting of the flyingfish.

The fourwing flyingfish (Hirundichthys affinis) is a shared resource which is exploited by seven countries: Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique (France), St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

SOURCE


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#448715 - 10/13/12 04:18 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Belize closed conch season early last yr due to the weight of the harvest before the official close date
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www.belize-trips.com
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#448985 - 10/18/12 01:14 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Press Release – CARIBBEAN REGIONAL FISHERIES MECHANISM SECRETARIAT – A United States petition submitted this March to list the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) as a threatened or endangered species, the status of the implementation of a common fisheries policy for CARICOM, and the joint action plan and Belize Declaration signed this September in the historic joint meeting of Central American and Caribbean fisheries Ministers will be priority items on the agenda of the upcoming 3rd Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

The special forum, to be chaired by The Bahamas, is being held to coincide with the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which will be observed from October 14 to 20, under the theme: “Celebrating Youth and Gender in Caribbean Agriculture – Each Endeavoring, All Achieving.”

Seventeen Ministers from across the Caribbean are expected to converge at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, for the meeting slated for Thursday, October 18, 2012.

On the sidelines of Thursday’s gathering, 8 Ministers who sit on the CRFM’s ministerial subcommittee on flying fish will also convene their first meeting, also to be chaired by The Bahamas, as they discuss the recommendations of the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) case study which looks into policy, legal frameworks and institutional investments in the flying fish fishery – the single most important small pelagic fishery in the southern Lesser
Antilles. The subcommittee will also review the report of the 1st meeting of the CRFM/WECAFC Working Group on the flyingfish fishery in the Eastern Caribbean.

Due to concerns about overfishing, the CRFM is working with the region to implement management plans for sustainable harvesting of the flying fish. The fourwing flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis) is a shared resource which is exploited by seven countries: Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique (France), St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

For more information, please contact: Milton Haughton, Executive Director, CRFM Secretariat;
P.O. Box 642, Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City, Belize
Tel: 501-223-4443 Fax: 501-223-4446
Email: haughton@caricom-fisheries.com
miltonhaughton@hotmail.com
crfm@btl.net

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#448993 - 10/18/12 01:35 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Conch, the endangered species may face protection by US

About one million pounds of conch are exported to the United States market per season. Combined, the conch and lobster represent as much as ninety percent of the total value of seafood exports. Aside from cuisine, the conch shell is used to produce exquisite jewelry. But there is currently a move to list the conch as an endangered species, which means that its exportation to lucrative US markets is in danger. By extension it would mean disaster for thousands of fisher folks who depend on the delicacy to earn a living. Tonight, News Five’s Isani Cayetano begins a two part report on the future of the conch.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The queen conch, its meat consumed in a variety of seafood delicacies, including all time favorites, ceviche and conch soup, is currently up for consideration by the United States Department of Commerce to be listed as a potentially threatened or endangered species. In February, WildEarth Guardians, a U.S.-based non-profit environmental organization, submitted a petition, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service, seeking protection of the giant sea snail under its Endangered Species Act.

Mauro Gongora, Fisheries Department

“What this petition will do if it is approved by the U.S. government is that it will basically, or it could potentially restrict or prohibit the imports of queen conch from other countries into the United States.”

An ESA listing, according to WildEarth Guardians, would also provide vital protection for critical habitat important for queen conch recovery. Our fisheries industry, which thrives, in part, on the exportation of conch, is in jeopardy of losing millions of dollars annually.

Mauro Gongora

Mauro Gongora

“We, at the Fisheries Department, are definitely very concerned simply because the conch fishery is of national importance. We have over two thousand, seven hundred fishermen, licensed fishermen that do conch fishing and when we put together the information we estimate that over thirteen thousand Belizeans are direct beneficiaries of the conch fishery. And so, a decision to list the queen conch as endangered or threatened in the United States would definitely affect Belize.”

Locally, however, consumers would not be affected by the inclusion of conch to the endangered species list since it would not be sold on the foreign market.

Mauro Gongora

“Domestic consumption would not be affected because we are not trading it internationally, so even if it is listed as such we would still be able to harvest and consume [conch] at the national level.”

But while thoughts of more fritters and conch penis are always welcomed, the strength of our economy is based on gross domestic product. The sale of conch across many countries contributes to Belize’s GDP, even if it is on a considerably smaller scale. The industry currently generates eight million U.S. dollars annually in revenue from conch fishery. The decision to list conch as an endangered species has prompted a national response from the Government of Belize.

Mauro Gongora

“Our position is that the information that the petitioner has used in its justification for making the petition is totally outdated. It doesn’t apply to Belize because our conch situation, our conch status in Belize is very different from what they have given as the information on the petition. My understanding is that some countries in the Caribbean will also be making a response to the petition. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism is also putting together a regional response and we are hoping that conch producing countries like The Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, who are major producing countries, would respond in line with Belize’s position that we don’t think that the conch resource is in any position as being listed as endangered or threatened.”

Belize’s national response will be proffered to the U.S. Department of Commerce through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs by October twenty-sixth. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The conch season this year closed two months early; it caused uproar among fishermen. On Thursday night, we’ll have their reaction on the possibility of listing the conch as an endangered species.

Channel 5


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#449126 - 10/19/12 02:14 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

U.S. may ban conch imports

The United States’ Secretary of Commerce has been asked to place the queen conch (Strombus gigas) on the list of threatened or endangered, under the Endangered Species Act, which would then prompt the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.) to move the queen conch from Appendix II to Appendix I, which would ban all trade in conch.

A C.I.TE.S. ban would affect not only the U.S., which is Belize’s major market for conch exports, but all other countries which are signatories to CITES.

This would effectively kill Belize’s conch fishing industry, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Wendell Parham of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development warned representatives of the five fishing cooperatives at a consultation held the Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute on Friday, October 12.

WildEarth Guardians, a U.S. conservation non-governmental organization made the petition to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to also request that the National Marine Fisheries Service designate critical habitat for the species in U.S. waters, but Belize and other countries which export conch to the U.S. have a window of opportunity, until October 26, 2012, to submit information and comments to the Secretary of Commerce.

Belize and other conch exporting countries are naturally lobbying to oppose the listing, because of the profound economic impact it would have on their fisheries industry.

Belize is arguing that its fisheries is sustainable, and is working with CFRM and OPESCA to put forward our position to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. This year’s survey had shown that there are much more mature conch to harvest.

A ban would be a blow to Belize’s fishing industry as conch exports remain Belize’s second most important commercial species of fishery, after lobster. Belize’s conch fisheries produced 856,425 pounds of conch last year, up from 705,775 in 2019, and earned Belize US$4.09 million in foreign exchange earnings in 2011.

All is not lost, as the ministry had called the consultation to advise the fishermen of the results of this year’s National Conch Survey and to advise them that the total quota for this year has been increased to 1,058,246 pounds. This is up from 690,322 allocated for the 2009-2010 season, when fishermen produced 725,221 lbs of conch and the 2010-2011 quota of 764,969 lbs, when the fishermen produced 856,425 lbs of conch.

The Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative gets the lion’s share of this year’s quota: 67% or 708,025 lbs. National Fishermen’s Cooperative gets 32% or 337,639 lbs. The Placencia Cooperative get 1% or 10,582lbs, while Rio Grande Coop in Punta Gorda gets a 500 lb quota, as does the Caribena Coop of San Pedro: 500 lbs.

As acting Fisheries Administrator James Azueta explained to the media after the meeting, the Fisheries Department has conducted a two-month survey of the conch population every year since 2006, as mandated for species listed on CITES Appendix II. CITES still allows trade for those species on Appendix II, but it all has to be properly documented. The annual surveys began after CITES listed Belize as requiring additional data.

The survey estimates the Total Allowable Catch (T.A.C.) using three different models: the empirical method which estimated T.A.C. at 1,058,880 lbs; the Schaeffer model which estimated T.A.C. at 1,138,863 lbs; and the Fox model which estimated T.A.C. at 976,996 lbs. The Fisheries Department averaged the three models which then estimated the total allowable catch at 1,058,246 lbs.

Normally, quotas are set at Maximum Sustainable Yield, which is calculated a 75% of the TAC.

The Reporter


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#449224 - 10/20/12 12:57 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BELIZE TO DEFEND $10 MIL QUEEN CONCH INDUSTRY AS US PREPARES TO REVIEW PETITION FOR TRADE BAN

2012 conch survey results and quota of a million pounds announced by Belize Fisheries Dept.

The Belize Fisheries Department this morning met in a two-hour session with fishers from across the country, as they unveiled the results of the 2012 national conch survey, decided on this year’s catch quotas and discussed a pending petition before the US Congress that could see a ban on conch trade with the US, which purchases 95% of Belize’s queen conch harvest.

Acting Fisheries Administrator James Azueta, Fisheries Officer at the Belize Fisheries Department, told journalists after this morning’s meeting that although Belize can currently trade conch, it has been mandated under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) since 2006 to report on conch production.

The Queen Conch (Strombus gigas), which is prevalent in the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Central America, such as Honduras, is listed under appendix II of CITES, which means that all trade has to be documented.

In March of this year, the NGO, WildEarth Guardians, of Denver, Colorado, submitted a petition to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service, to have the species listed as threatened or endangered.

If the petition is granted and the Queen Conch status is downgraded from appendix II to I (prohibited trade), no country will be able to export conch to the USA or any other country, said Azueta.

This pending US petition will also be discussed at an upcoming ministerial meeting of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), slated to be held in Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday, October 18, 2012. The 3rd Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM is being held to coincide with the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, October 14 to 20, being observed under the theme: ”Celebrating Youth and Gender in Caribbean Agriculture — Each Endeavoring, All Achieving.”

Azueta told Amandala that apart from Belize putting up its national position on the queen conch petition, it will also work along with two sub-regional organizations, CRFM and OSPESCA (the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus) which will also present their positions by the October 26 deadline.

Azueta said that Belize’s conch industry is valued at $10 million annually. This year, fisheries authorities have set a quota (or a total allowable catch) of just over a million pounds, which represents 75% of the maximum sustainable yield. The quota system, he said, has been in place since 2006.

Additionally, Belize has this year introduced managed access to the Glovers Reef Marine Reserve and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.

By year-end, it hopes to have in place new fisheries legislation that will incorporate the new managed access regime, as well as stiffer penalties for infractions of fisheries laws.

According to Azueta, Belize is furthermore moving towards introducing a quota system for lobster and size limits for certain finfish species.

(Author’s Note: See press release elsewhere in this issue captioned, “USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened or endangered.”)

Amandala


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#449229 - 10/20/12 01:47 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

If conch becomes endangered in US, will it affect Belize?

Thousands across the Caribbean depend on the queen conch for a living. There is currently a proposal being promoted by a US NGO to list the conch as an endangered species, which would stop its exportation to the United States. The move was discussed this week by Ministers of the Caribbean, who met in Antigua and Barbuda for the annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture. In Belize, government is formulating a position but for those who feed their families by fishing the conch, the proposal is not going down well. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has part two of a special report on the conch as an endangered species.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The potential listing of queen conch as an endangered species by the U.S. Department of Commerce has raised concerns among local fishermen across the country, whose livelihood rely, in part, on the export of their seasonal harvest.  Approximately one million pounds of conch is produced annually, a hefty quota being met, to some extent, by members of the Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative.

Roberto Orellano

Roberto Orellano, Fisherman

“This coop over three thousand members here and that’s three thousand families that live and eat off this conch from the money that the fishermen make from selling this conchs to the cooperative.  Another way it would affect us is that the coop gains over five million dollars in profit and currency exchange that they make yearly for these fishermen when they work and they sell it here at the cooperative, right.”

What is feared is that a trickledown effect, a direct result of the United States banning the importation of conch, will severely hurt the pockets of all local producers.

Linton Gentle

Linton Gentle, Fisherman

“Fi di whole day we woulda bring een like wah hundred ahn odd pound, wah hundred ahn seventy pound or so cause we swim whole day.  We swim di reef, in, out, you know.  We swim all day.  We noh even stop fi eat sometime.  We woulda eat eena di evening ahn so.  We deh out deh di work haad.”

Isani Cayetano

“How hard is hard?”

Linton Gentle

“Bredda well fi swim all day dah lotta energy yoh di bun, yoh know, cause da wata yoh deh eena, current, yoh got current weh di push, weather sometime, weather builds up.  We tek lotta lick out deh.”

While it is argued that premature conchs are being harvested, Orellano says that adult queen conchs are also found in abundance.

Roberto Orellano

“In some areas that you dive it is that way, right, but here, if you dive closer within the English Caye area, the shell is very thin for the conchs but when you take out the conchs and you way it, it has the required ounce that they need to be a pass, which is more than three ounce, three point five ounce right.  If you farther, the conchs shell might be thin but it does have the undersized weight for it to be a market sale right.”

Seasoned fisherman, Joseph Requeña, also believes that there is a wealth of conch that remains to be harvested, despite occasional scarcity.

Joseph Requeña

Joseph Requeña, Fisherman

“I’m not saying that the conch doesn’t get scarce.  It does get scarce, but the conchs will never go completely off the face of the earth because, for instance, this time when they closed the conch season for six months, the amount of conchs weh come een eena fifteen days or eena three weeks time, hey incredible.”

That position is also firmly held by Orellano.

Roberto Orellano

“The conch for this year is looking very bright and it’s very bright for the cooperative right now because they are getting in a lot of conchs that they even had to put it on hold for a while because there’s too many conchs coming in.  For the day over a thousand pounds of conchs would be coming in just off one sailboat alone.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The government will have a position by next week Friday. 

Channel 5


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#449606 - 10/24/12 01:52 PM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Caribbean officials formulating regional position to proposed ban of queen conch trade

Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Milton Haughton, recently back from the 3rd Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM held in Antigua and Barbuda last Thursday, told Amandala this afternoon that leaders in the region are finalizing a position statement to respond to a petition filed in the USA to have the queen conch listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—a move that would wipe out all existing trade of the queen conch between the region and the US, which imports 70% of the conch produced from the Caribbean Sea.

Responses to the WildEarth Guardians petition to ban trade in conch must be submitted by this Friday, October 26, 2012.

“We find that the petition and information in our files present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted,” said Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, in a notice published in August for the US Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “We will conduct a status review of the species to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this species…”

Haughton said that the region has to take a very scientific approach in its response, which should incorporate the positions of individual countries, particularly those such as Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos, which are the main exporters.

In light of its recently formalized collaboration with the Central American body, OSPESCA — the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus, the CRFM is also hoping to work with that body in making representations against the trade ban.

A representative of the Belize Fisheries Department had previously said that apart from Belize putting forth its national position on the queen conch—which was cited as a $10 million industry here—it will also work along with two sub-regional organizations, CRFM and OSPESCA, in putting forward a response.

Haughton notes that in 1992, the queen conch was placed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention (CITES), under which management measures and reporting requirements were stipulated. As a result of that measure, said Haughton, experts in the region know that stocks in the Caribbean are in fairly good shape.

Matthew James, a US national currently based in Dangriga, called Amandala today on behalf of the Dangriga Fishermen’s Association to say that the trade ban threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Belizean fishermen. He acknowledged, however, that those who will be making the decision in the US are not interested in discussing the socio-economic impacts. James said that enough is not being done to protect the interests of local fishermen.

According to Haughton, the US closed their queen conch fishery 20 years ago because their stocks had been depleted, but, he added, queen conch resources are among the best managed in the Caribbean.

Should the US agree with the petition to ban trade, said Haughton, the European Union/European Commission, the next significant importer, could follow suit, especially since they are taking on new legislation to promote sustainable fisheries.

A US ban could result in the complete closure of the entire conch market, said Haughton.

Discussions on possible income substitution for fishers who could have their livelihoods affected have not been thoroughly advanced. For now, fishermen as well as local and regional authorities are focusing on meeting this Friday’s deadline to respond to the US petition to ban trade in queen conch.

Amandala


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#450441 - 11/06/12 11:54 AM Re: USA considers listing Queen Conch as threatened [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Threat of ban on Belize conch imports into the United States could endanger the Caribbean country's multi-million dollar queen conch industry.

Belize's conch industry is valued at BZD$10 million (US$5 million) annually but it could virtually be wiped out if the United States Congress institutes a widespread ban against the importation of the seafood delicacy.

Currently, the United States purchases 95% of Belize's queen conch harvest, but in March of this year the WildEarth Guardians, a non-governmental organisation in Denver, Colorado petitioned the US Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service, to have the species listed as threatened or endangered.

According to James Azueta, acting fisheries administrator at the Belize Fisheries Department, if the petition is granted and the Queen Conch status is downgraded from appendix II to I (prohibited trade) under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), no country will be able to export conch to the USA or any other country.

This year, fisheries authorities have set a quota (or a total allowable catch) of just over a million pounds, which represents 75% of the maximum sustainable yield. The quota system has been in place since 2006 as Belize is mandated to report on its conch production and trade under its CITES obligations.

Additionally, Belize has this year introduced managed access to the Glovers Reef Marine Reserve and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.

By year-end, it hopes to have in place new fisheries legislation that will incorporate the new managed access regime, as well as stiffer penalties for infractions of fisheries laws.

According to Azueta, Belize is furthermore moving towards introducing a quota system for lobster and size limits for certain finfish species.

Source


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