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Caribbean countries 'breathe sigh of relief' following US conch ruling

Published:Tuesday | November 4, 2014 | 3:10 PM
A conch shell and the just-removed conch. - File photo by Rosemary Parkinso

A United States decision is being hailed as sparing the conch industry of Jamaica and the wider Caribbean from devastation.



Yesterday, the US Department of Commerce, concluded that the queen conch is not currently in danger of extinction, allowing the country to continue imports.



The US is the biggest importer of Caribbean conch.



In 2012, a US conservation non-government organisation, WildEarth Guardians, submitted a petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service to list queen conch as threatened or endangered under the USA Endangered Species Act.



However, in their ruling, the US authorities say there is no threat of endangerment nor is there likely to be any within the foreseeable future.



The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism says it's pleased with the decision that will result in the region’s conch fishery remaining alive and well.



Executive director of the mechanism, Milton Haughton, says listing the conch as endangered would have resulted in significant dislocation, loss of jobs and economic harm to thousands of fishers and their families across the region that depend upon the queen conch.



He is also commending stakeholders across the region for providing scientific and resource management to assist the US in arriving at its decision.



Jamaica says US conch ruling 'big news'



Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry says it welcomes the news that the US will not list the queen conch as an endangered species as a major victory.



The Ministry's Permanent Secretary says conch is Jamaica’s major fish export and the country’s industry would have been devastated by an adverse ruling.



Conch meat exports from 12 Caribbean countries are about 14,000 tons and contribute around US$185 million in earnings, annually.



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