‘Tis the season for conch and whelk. Starting Thursday (1 November,) residents will be able to legally harvest these gastronomic gastropods as long as they stick to the Department of Environment’s strict catch limits.
November first marks open season on conch and whelk, and the DOE wants seafood lovers to harvest these marine mollusks responsibly.
“Please don’t go overboard, go out, have a nice weekend, get some conch, pick up some whelk if you want, but please remember these are recreational limits is what they’re designed for,” said DOE legislation implementation and coordination unit manager John Bothwell.
He told Cayman 27 strict limits are in place to ensure conch and whelk are here for Cayman’s future enjoyment.
“That means please don’t go to the restaurants and try to sell to them because they can’t take more than the limit anyway, if you are a restaurateur, and somebody comes to you with a big bag of conch, A) tell them no, B) please call the DOE or call 911 and say, hey I’ve got someone here trying to sell me some illegal stuff,” said Mr. Bothwell.
The DOE’s limits for conch are five per person or ten per boat per day, whichever is less. For whelk, the daily limits are two-and-a-half gallons in the shell (half of a five-gallon bucket) or two-and-a-half pounds cleaned.
Mr. Bothwell said those limits include possession and apply to individuals as well as restaurants.
“When people are looking for restaurants to sell a hundred conch to, that cannot be sustained in our country, unfortunately, and so we just cannot allow it,” said Mr. Bothwell.
He dispels the myth that the poaching of marine resources is a victimless crime.
“Really they are stealing from all of us because if there is, poaching leads to overfishing, if the population goes down we are all going to have to pay for it by not being able to take conch in the future,” said Mr. Bothwell.
The DOE said while conch and whelk season opens Thursday, lobster lovers will have to wait another month (until 1 December) to harvest lobster legally.
The limits again: for conch: five per person or ten per boat per day, whichever is less, and that includes take and possession.
For whelks, the daily limit is two-and-a-half gallons in the shell, or two-and-a-half pounds cleaned.
If you become aware of or suspect poaching activity, call 9-1-1 or a DOE conservation officer (On Grand Cayman call 916-4271, on Cayman Brac call 9-1-1, or on Little Cayman call 916-7021)