Strombus Gigas Alliance attends 67th GCFI conference in Barbados
The 67th Golf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) conference took place in Barbados from 3rd to the 7th of November. Amongst the many participants was Belize’s Strombus Gigas Alliance (SGA) who made a 16-minute presentation to the packed audience. Their presentation was made in an effort to show the top world marine life caretakers the full economic value of the entire conch, instead of just the flesh currently consumed.
Conch experts Glenn Schwendinger and Dr. Dianne Lawrence who live on Ambergris Caye, made the presentation on a two-year working document. The duo submitted the presentation to caretakers of marine life, experts and the research academia, pointing out that the fishermen of the region have not been able to capitalize on the full economic value of the Queen Conch (scientifically known as Strombus gigas). They pointed out that as it stands, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (CITES), all parts of the conch, including the flesh are allowed to be traded from country to country with the right permits. While the conch flesh is moved from country to country with little obstacles, it is a bit more challenging for the remaining parts of the conch, which includes the internal organs, shell and operculum (claw). This, claims the Belize SGA, does not encourage the full use of the conch, thus dumping the remaining parts of the conch into the garbage that could otherwise earn the fishing industry added revenue worth millions of dollars.
Speaking about the success of the presentation, Schwedinger indicated that it was well accepted. “It was a huge success as the presentation was unanimously accepted and the feedback was excellent,” said Schwedinger. “The economic impact that the full use of the conch can have is huge and those present acknowledge that fact.”
As it is, Belize’s revenue for the over 1 million pounds of conch harvested annually is approximately $11 million. But Belize SGA believes that economic impact only represents a fraction of value of the conch and they estimate that 85% to 92% of the conch is thrown away.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun