Queen Conch Problems

In February 2016, an American NGO called “WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals” notified US officials of their intention to sue several US Government Departments over their 2014 decision to NOT list the queen conch as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit could adversely affect the Fisheries sector throughout the Caribbean because the region exports roughly US$185 million worth of conch meat a year to the US.  A listing of the coveted Queen Conch species as “endangered” would result in an outright ban in the US, while a listing of “threatened” would lead to more stringent export regulations. Last week at the 7th Annual Meeting of the CARICOM-US Trade and Investment Council, Officials from the Caribbean Community and the United States held talks in Washington on several Trade concerns, chief among them the treat of the lawsuit. Executive director of Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Milton Haughton, maintained that a lawsuit is unjustified, as it is based on outdated and erroneous information. However, the NGO which intends to sue has had a 77% success rate in US Courts. US researchers claim that the litigation could jeopardize industries representing over US$3 billion dollars. US authorities have indicated that they will defend their position on the queen conch even as CARICOM States intend to monitor the lawsuit’s progress. At the Washington meeting, the parties also discussed US measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. CARICOM says the new measures could have significant negative consequences for the export of seafood to the US, since importers would be required to implement new systems to certify that fish products are not from IUU sources. Those same measures could also create opportunities for CARICOM fish products by reducing the occurrence of Illegal fishing by third States and unfair competition, provided that CARICOM receives Aid from the USA to train and bring CARICOM fishing processes up to Par with the new Regulationsvlcsnap-2016-05-30-13h31m02s739 vlcsnap-2016-05-30-13h31m08s064 vlcsnap-2016-05-30-13h31m12s348

About the Author