If you happened to be in Belize last Friday, I quite imagine you would have witnessed a goodly number of folks busily gobbling up the last remaining conch of the season. That’s because beginning Saturday, June 1 the Belize Fisheries Department began fining anyone in possession of the Queen Conch. In an effort to protect the conch fisheries from being over-fished, the government determined it had to close the official conch season two months earlier than usual. The last day to legally catch the large snail with the beautiful shell was May 23. They gave restaurants and the public an eight-day grace period to get rid of the last conch.
The Belize Fisheries Department hereby informs all fishers and the General Public that in accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 54 of 2012 Senator, the Honorable Lisel Alamilla – Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development has declared the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) fishery closed to fishing, harvesting or capture of the species on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The fishing community is especially advised that all conch fishing activities shall legally cease as of this date until the opening of the next fishing season on October 1, 2013.
The Belize Fisheries Department further advises restaurateurs and the public that a grace period of eight (8) days, which ends on Friday, May 31, 2013, is being given to allow persons to consume and dispose of all Queen Conch in their possession.
Any person found in possession of the Queen Conch after Friday, May31, 2013, will be charged and prosecuted in a Court of Law in accordance to the Fisheries Regulations.
The cooperation of the fishing community and the general public is greatly appreciated in the sustainable use and conservation of this important fishery resource. The Fisheries Department advises the public to report any illegal fishing activity to its Belize City offices located on Princess Margaret Drive or at telephone numbers: 224-4552 or 223-2623.
The Fisheries Department takes this opportunity to inform that the 2012/13 Queen Conch fishing season was a full success. The four registered and active fishermen cooperatives have filled their assigned Queen Conch meat quotas.