As we celebrate the end of the closed season for lobster all the little lobsters are growing and we are now able to fish and eat them (woohoo!). Nonetheless, it’s that time of year again that we must forego indulging our craving for conch so there is conch in the sea for many years to come! From July 1st until the 31st of October, various species of conch, mainly the queen conch, while also including the mulefoot conch, the Santa María conch, and various others are now prohibited from being picked, sold, purchased or eaten in the Dominican Republic.
Eating seafood is something that we enjoy a lot since we live in the Caribbean, but in order to continue enjoying this for many years to come, our country signed an agreement during CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) back in 1987, which protects a number of species from hunted during these period of time and bans the sale and consumption of them so they can reproduce.
All supermarkets, restaurants and fisheries are obliged by CODOPESCA (Dominican Council of Fishing and Aquaculture) to abstain from hunting, purchasing, selling or serving these species during this period and to report what they have in stock within the first 10 business days of the start of the ban (July 10th). Once CODOPESCA has verified and reported what the restaurants have in stock, they have 20 days to consume, sell or discarded them. This means that today, August 8th, no restaurants, supermarkets or fisheries should be selling or serving conch. It is not only illegal, but it is also what is ethically right! Those who break the ban will be subject to legal penalties and fines.
Many restaurants here in Casa obey this ban and have removed Conch from their menu! (HORRAY!) La Cantina in Altos de Chavón not only jumped on board, but they have made it public! A sign on their door let’s everyone know they support the Conch Closed Season and are not selling it in order to respect the ban. Great job La Cantina!!! We applaud your efforts and hope that many more restaurants in Casa de Campo assume the same level of commitment and responsibility so as to ensure many years of yummy seafood for all!
The businesses are not the only ones with the power to make a difference! You can do so as well! By abstaining from ordering, purchasing or eating conch in establishments that are breaking the closed season ban you are helping our marine ecosystems reproduce! Furthermore, if you visit an establishment that is breaking the ban, we encourage you to take action and do one of two things:
- Report it on social media using #seashame ! Reef Check DR, a local organization promoting the conservation of our marine ecosystems is managing a social media campaign whereby establishments or individuals breaking the ban are placed on a public “Wall of Sea Shame”!
- Take a picture and contact FUNDEMAR! They will help formally put in a claim that the establishment is infringing on the closed season regulations. (809) 833-0481 or email [email protected]
We encourage everyone to do their part and refrain from buying conch, eating them at restaurants or supporting establishments that do. Ultimately, its the responsibility of each and every one of us to protect the conches so that they can reproduce and we can have delicious, fresh conch for years to come. What’s a few months without eating conch anyways?
When: July 1st until the 31st of October
What: Various species of conch, mainly the queen conch, while also including the mulefoot conch, the Santa María conch, and various others are now prohibited from being hunted in the Dominican Republic. No consumption or marketing of Conch.
Not only does the ban contribute to preserving the species, but it also helps to improve it’s quality for exports.
Anyone that is found disrespecting the ban could be fined up to US$50,000 as well as jail sentences of up to 10 years.
So please remember not to fish or buy conch in any of the seafood centers, restaurants or beaches as a way of protecting them.