Assessment of Queen Conch, Lobatus gigas, Density, Middens and Permitting Requirements, in South Eleuthera, Bahamas
Type of Degreethesis
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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Subject to subsistence and commercial harvest for decades, the queen conch, Lobatus gigas, has been subject to additional pressure in the Bahamas as stocks have been depleted in other countries that were historically prominent exporters. With concerns about local stocks and interest in culture of this species in the Bahamas an analysis of conch populations in south Eleuthera was executed. A survey of middens in the region to assess recent and historical fishing efforts was also performed. An area surveyed in 2003 (Clark et al., 2005) and determined to be a conch nursery ground was surveyed again in 2011 bi-monthly from July through November 2011 to assess population dynamics at nine sites in southern Eleuthera and assess any changes over time. Results suggest a decrease in density over time with no significant difference in total length over the two time periods. Middens in the area were also evaluated to quantify any change in size at harvest over time. Newer or “fresh” shells were significantly smaller than their “intermediate” and “old” counterparts. The information gathered proposes that juvenile harvest has increased substantially throughout the years, raising concerns about the sustainability of this important fishery. The permitting requirements for aquaculture of queen conch to alleviate this pressure are also discussed.