Queen Conch Compatibility in Federal and USVI Territorial Waters Commercial Trip Limits Recreational Bag Limits 144th Council Meeting December 19-20, 2012
Queen Conch Harvest Open Season : November 1 - May 31 St. Croix EEZ
143rd Caribbean Council MeetingAugust 28-29, 2012 • Motion to instruct the staff to prepare a document to make the queen conch EEZ regulations compatible with the USVI.
Purpose for Action • To establish compatible regulations for the harvest of queen conch between the U.S. EEZ and USVI territorial regulations. • Compatibility of regulations will aid in the enforcement of such regulations and allow for better control of fishing pressure on the queen conch resource.
Option 1: Modify the trip limit for the commercial harvest of queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ
Option 2: Modify the bag limit for the recreational harvest of queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ
Conch Meat weight requirements - USVI “No possession of conch meats smaller than two uncleaned conch per pound or three cleaned conch per pound”
Check condition of mature external reproductive parts (seen in mature individuals before cleaning) Female Male Pictures: D. Arana The meat-size ratio requires that conch be removed from the shell and can not be returned unharmed to the water if it is undersized. In addition to shell length: 9” TL or 3/8” LT and 2 unclean, 3 clean to the pound – to be verified on arrival at dock or at sea.
Other Issues Puerto Rico Recreational Sector • Exceeding state bag limits – 3conchs p/p, max 12 p/boat • Harvesting illegal sizes • Selling conch • International / Other Issues • ESA Listing Petition – Fishermen need update • CITES – Fishermen want import of conch to be prohibited during seasonal closure • Illegal aliens harvesting conch
Motion to ask staff to complete the regulatory amendment 2 to the queen conch FMP and schedule for a public hearing and final action at our march meeting. • R. Crabtree, W. Ledee. Unanimously approved.
Option 1: Modify the trip limit for the commercial harvest of queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ • The ACL for queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ is 50,000 lbs., which is compatible with the St. Croix territorial quota of 50,000 lbs. Accountability measures will close the fishery when the ACL / territorial quota is reached. • Modifying the allowed trip limit would affect the rate at which the ACL is harvested. • This option would not have any overall effect on the total amount of harvest that is currently allowed in the EEZ.
Although usually one license holder and his helpers will go out on a boat, it is not rare for a vessel to have multiple license holders onboard, two being the most common number. • Percentage of fishermen that fished alone and with others in 2010-2011 (Source: Kojis and Quinn 2011)
Conch Meat weight requirements - USVI • Considered (and rejected) in the Queen Conch FMP (1996) as a replacement measure to overall shell length. • Weight of conch is highly variable. • Queen conch may exhibit small size shells among fully mature individuals in some places and large shelled but still immature conchs in other areas • Best relationship found between lip thickness and sexual maturity. • Conch stops growing in shell length when they mature. After this, growth is only expressed in shell thickness. Immature (left) and mature (right) conch from two neighboring fishing grounds in The Bahamas (Source: Ehrnhardt and Valle-Esquivel for CFMC, 2008).