Experts develop a new set of regional management & conservation measures for queen conch

Some 50 experts and national authorities of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) representing 23 governments and international and national organizations met in Panama City, from 18 to 20 November 2014, under the umbrella of the CFMC/OSPESCA/WECAFC/CRFM[1] Working Group on Queen Conch.

Working Group picture QC

The participants developed a new set of regional harmonized measures for the management and conservation of this large mollusc that is declining in certain areas as a result of overfishing.

The second meeting of the Working Group reviewed a draft Queen Conch management and conservation plan with 26 potential measures and determined which measures will contribute most to the sustainability of the stocks and livelihoods of those involved in queen conch fisheries.

The experts recommended that some 16 measures are suitable for regional level harmonization and should be discussed in 2015 with all relevant stakeholders at national level in the queen conch range states. Most measures identified are applied already by a majority of range states at national level. Adoption of a final set of regionally harmonized management measures is foreseen to take place at the 16th session of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) and the 17th Conference of Parties to CITES in 2016.

QC drawing colour

The queen conch is a large mollusc harvested for food and found throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico

Following-up on CITES’ 16th COP Decisions (2013) and WECAFC Recommendation WECAFC/15/2014/3 on Queen Conch, the Working Group reached also expert agreement on the use of regional harmonized conversion factors for the various degrees of processing of conch meat and a format for Non-Detriment Findings (NDFs) assessments. The NDF is a requirement from CITES to demonstrate that exported queen conch originates for a well-managed resource and that export is thus not detrimental for the stocks.

In the coming years, the Working Group aims to further advice on the experts’ agreed management and conservation measures, the development of an auditable “chain of custody” procedure to track catches from their catch location to their eventual destination and on increasing awareness and building capacity among fishers on Safety-at-Sea and particular address risk management in compressed air diving for Queen Conch.

The joint Working Group was established by the 14th session of WECAFC in February 2012 and this 2nd meeting was co-organized and sponsored by the CFMC of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the CITES Secretariat, WECAFC and FAO.

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