Fisherfolk, traders and the public at large are being reminded that the ban on the fishing, sale and export of conch which was instituted from March 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020, has been extended to Sunday, March 22, 2020, when it shall be illegal for any person to sell, process or import conch meat and/or conch opercula. Any breaches of the Close Season Order will be severely penalised, in accordance with the Fisheries Act 2018, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
By way of Ministerial Order, last year a close season was initially declared for queen conch Genus Strombus for the period March 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020. However, the depleted conch stocks have not sufficiently recovered, and so the agriculture ministry has decided to extend the ban
During the period of the close season, it shall be illegal for any person to catch queen conch and/or harvest any conch products (that is, conch shell and conch opercula).
Any person found in possession of conch meat and/or conch opercula for commercial purposes, including, but not limited to fishers, vendors, middlemen, wholesalers, cold-storage facility operators, stores operators at hotels and restaurants, cookshop operators, all operators of eating establishments, and jewellery establishments and any other establishment, in possession of conch opercula for commercial purposes, will be guilty of a breach.
In light of recent reports of illegal conch fishing, the ministry is sending a very firm, unequivocal appeal and warning to all those involved, to desist from breaching the regulations and to help to safeguard the livelihood of thousands of Jamaicans. Failure to cooperate and abide by the law will result in the imposition of the heaviest possible sanctions under the law.