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credits: Dan Martin

The Caribbean queen conch was listed in CITES Appendix II in 1992 following concerns that overexploitation for international trade was threatening the survival of the species throughout its area of distribution in the Caribbean. In order to assist queen conch fishing countries with the implementation of CITES regulations, FAO initiated the development of a ‘Manual for the monitoring and management of queen conch’ in consultation with a number of local agencies and in cooperation with the CARICOM Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC). A working version of the manual, which includes some guidelines on the requirements for responsible management of queen conch fisheries, was published in 2005. Inputs received from experts and managers since then led to the development of an expanded and updated version of the manual recently published as an FAO Fisheries Technical Paper (download PDF.)

During 2005, FAO provided advice and assistance to Caribbean countries exporting queen conch and to the CITES Secretariat on sustainable use of this regionally important resource. These actions coincided with and contributed to efforts to implement recommendations arising from a second review of significant trade in queen conch Strombus gigas, initiated by the CITES Animals Committee in 2001-2003 because of concerns that the levels of authorized exports might not be sustainable.

Considering the need to improve capacity in the region for the management of queen conch fisheries, a Regional Workshop on the Monitoring and Management of Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, was held in Kingston, Jamaica, 1 – 5 May 2006. The workshop was jointly organised by FAO WECAFC and UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) and sponsored by the FAO Project GCP/INT/987/JPN “CITES and Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species”, UNEP-CEP, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The workshop was attended by most queen conch range States in the Wider Caribbean and led to several recommendations for improving queen conch fisheries management at national and regional levels. The results of the workshop were published as a FAO Fisheries Report in 2007 (download PDF).

Building on the results and recommendations of the FAO Regional Workshop, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) and the Regional Coordinating Unit of the Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CAR/RCU) to assist selected Parties of the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol to develop management plans for their Queen Conch fisheries.

A joint Working Group on Queen Conch involving the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC), Organization of Fishing and Aquaculture in Central America (OSPESCA), Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was established by the 14th session of WECAFC in February 2012. The first meeting of the joint Working Group was help in Panama City, from 23 to 25 October 2012 (download full report). The Working Group issued a “Declaration of Panama City,” which contained a number of recommendations, including the support to the development of a regional plan for the management and conservation of Queen Conch. It was also recommended that the Queen Conch range States, CITES and FAO cooperate closely and work jointly on the improvement and standardization of trade data and statistics for Queen Conch and its derivatives.

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