Dominican Republic

Why you should say NO to Conch until October 31st

conch ban

While we celebrate the end of the lobster, and crab ban officially ended on June 30th, we alert you to forego the purchase, sell, and consumption of conch. From July 1st through 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 fished, sold, purchased or eaten in the Dominican Republic. The regulations for lambí and associated species are based on Laws 64-00 and 307-04, created by the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA), under Decree No. 499-09.

The queen conch (Strombus gigas) refers to both the large, marine mollusk and its shell alone.  Queen conchs (pronounced “konks”) are soft-bodied animals, belonging to the same taxonomic group (Mollusca) as clams, oysters, octopi, and squid. They live in shallow, warm waters on coral reefs or seagrass beds. A queen conch can reach up to 12 inches in length and can live for up to 40 years. Its shell grows as the mollusk grows, forming into a spiral shape with a glossy pink or orange interior.

Queen conch meat is consumed domestically throughout the Caribbean and exported as a delicacy. Conch shells and shell jewelry are sold to tourists and the live animals are used for the aquarium trade. Their slow growth, occurrence in shallow waters and late maturation make queen conch particularly susceptible to over-fishing, their greatest threat. Habitat degradation, over-fishing, and the use of SCUBA have led to harvest of previously unexploited populations in deeper waters.

The conch (scientific name: Strombus gigas L.), constitutes a means of sustenance for the Dominican fishing economy, representing a source of occupation and food for the citizenship; Being necessary the protection of this species in its different stages of reproduction and development, guaranteeing its sustainability throughout the year. This is why back in 1987 during CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the country signed an agreement to protect a number of species from being captured during this time period and it bans the sale and consumption of them so that they’re allowed to reproduce. Since we live in the Caribbean and, for the most part, all enjoy seafood, we want to be able to continue eating conch for years to come!

All supermarkets, restaurants, and fisheries are obliged by CODOPESCA to abstain from hunting, purchasing, selling or serving these species 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 discard them. This means that today, July 16th, there’s only a little more time before restaurants, supermarkets or fisheries should stop 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.

We hope that everyone assumes the level of commitment and responsibility to protecting Conch. Businesses are not the only ones with the power to make a difference — You can too! By abstaining from ordering, purchasing or eating conch in establishments that are breaking the closed season ban, you are helping our marine ecosystems reproduce.

CONCH BAN

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.

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