Queen Conch Resources

Nelson Ehrhardt and Manuel Perez (2024)

This study consists of a re-assessment of the CFs addressing the estimation of QC dirty meat weight from weight of processed meat categories by using the existing data already used to estimate the CFs necessary to obtain whole live weight from processed meat categories. In addition, it addresses the recommendation that an average CF be available for the entire region in order to estimate live weight (i.e. the weights of flesh plus shell) from landings expressed in dirty weight in those countries that do not have such CF. This average CF will be used for the purposes of FAO landing reports on live weight of the species. Therefore, this report has the following objectives:

  1. To carry out a statistical review and validation of the existing data used in previous CF estimates for live weight and assess the suitability of the data for estimating new CFs for estimating “dirty” meat weights originated from different percent meat processing categories.
  2. To carry out statistical analyses of the effects of “dirty” on the % of clean meat weights in order to elucidate the statistical validity of using such data under potential morphometric effects of the QC. Such analyses should also portray the effects of differences in QC processing observed among fisheries in the Caribbean region.
  3. Contribute new CFs referred to the “dirty” classification from various weights of % of meat processing categories reported by countries, and
  4. Estimate a regional average CF in order to reconstruct FAO fishery landing statistics from average “dirty” weight to live weight statistics (i.e. dirty or tissue weight + shell weight).

This report is available in English and Spanish and has a supporting example on how to estimate CF using data from Honduras in XLS format.

Richard Appeldoorn, Nelson Ehrhardt, Martha Prada and Alexander Tewfik (2023)

This document presents for queen conch products an approach or guidance to NDF determination that could be considered simple in that it leads CITES Scientific Authorities through a standard process consisting of discrete steps that are each approached through a series of short questions. This format was closely modeled after the existing NDF simplified guidance for timber (version 3.0 of the CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber – Guidance for EU-member States). That nine-step process went through an extensive, multiyear development and review process aimed at generating a standardized mechanism to record and process the information required and available to a CITES Scientific Authority in order to make an adequate NDF. For queen conch, the current product is the result of a collective effort that integrated the knowledge and experience of a group of well-recognized queen conch experts and managers as well as a group of fisheries officers of the region’s main exporters, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, and Belize.

The result of this effort is a 10-step plan consisting of two documents.  The first is the guidance manual, which gives a short overview of the role of the species in the environment, the effect of queen conch’s complex biology on the assessment process, and potential sources of information useful for these assessments. For each step, the guide introduces a rationale to better understand the concept, proposes key underlying questions to be addressed, and presents a potential list of indicators (with explanations) for the CITES Scientific Authority to consider in making its analysis and decisions. For each indicator, three levels of risks/concerns (low, medium, or high) are presented and defined. The second document consists of 10 spreadsheets (1/Step) that facilitate the evaluation of risks and concerns concerning queen conch biology, harvest and trade, as well as their potential mitigation through management. These spreadsheets consist of boxes that can be simply filled in and evaluated for quality of information.

This Guidance is not intended to automatically generate the NDF-decision of a Scientific Authority. It provides a standardized mechanism to record and process the information required and available to make an assessment. It is this approach that is considered to be simplified. However, it must be remembered that the assessment of any marine population, and that of the queen conch in particular, is not simple due to the high demand for information, which is not always available. Thus, throughout this process it must be recognized that the less information available relative to the fishery and the queen conch resource, the greater the degree of uncertainty and the greater degree precaution required. Nevertheless, the approach is adaptive in that management can identify key gaps needing improvement to reduce uncertainties in future assessments.

This report is available in English and Spanish with a supporting Excel file in English and Spanish

Nelson Ehrhardt, Alexander Tewfik, Stephen Smikle and Karlisa Black (2023)

In 2021 under the advice of the Queen ConchScientific, Statistical and Technical AdvisoryGroup (QC SSTAG  recommendations, the FAO-WECAFC Secretariat submitted a proposal to theEuropean Union (EU) seeking funds in support of a pilot project to advance data collection efforts for sustainable queen conch fisheries and conservation management in the WECAFC region. The proposal was approved by the EU in June 2022 and the FAO-WECAFC Secretariat entered into a cooperative agreement with the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI)to act as the implementing agency of the pilot project in Jamaica. This country was selected byFAO considering that their queen conch artisanal and industrial fisheries may be representative of queen conch fisheries throughout the WECAFC region. Therefore, findings emerging from the pilot project would be suitable for advising other countries in need of technical support.

The pilot project was implemented in September 2022. Several training steps were necessary to introduce methodologies that could address statistical issues and resolve queen conch data gaps in the industrial and artisanal fisheries while testing feasibilities to expand the results to the national and regional levels. The industrial queen conch fisheries in Jamaica are managed by annual export quotas under CITES export permits.The quotas are based on standing stock biomass estimates and annual trends of relative indices of abundance. Standing stock abundance is obtained through direct visual population density surveys every 3 to 5 years while relative abundance indices are estimated using catch and effort gathered from the industrial fishing fleets. These activities are conducted exclusively for the offshore fishing grounds of Pedro Bank from which the vast majority of conch resources are extracted. However, the National FisheryAuthority of Jamaica is concerned with the perceived growth of queen conch artisanal fisheries that operate on the island shelf and for which no statistically validated data collections exist. Therefore, the pilot project focused on the development and implementation of a census/survey approach to secure landings and fishing effort of the large artisanal fleets of Jamaica. At the same time, the pilot project reviewed the industrial fishery statistical system and provided insights on improvements of spatial fishing effort information that may be achieved by way of modeling satellite vessel monitoring information

This report is available in English and Spanish.