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FEDERAL BAN ON TAKING QUEEN CONCH EYED

Nov. 12, 2001 – The Caribbean Fishery Management Council will hold a public hearing on St. Thomas on Nov. 26 to discuss a plan to close federal offshore waters around the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to queen conch harvesting.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel.
While the council already has regulations concerning season, size and the number of queen conch that can be taken, council habitat specialist Graciela Garcia-Moliner said that the conch continue to be over fished in the area.
She said the regulations cover deeper, offshore federal waters called the Exclusive Economic Zone. "We think that the populations in deeper waters are the spawning populations," she said.
When fishermen harvest them, the conch can't reproduce. "We aren't seeing many juveniles," Garcia-Moliner said.
However, closing the area entirely will take an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan. Currently, queen conch fishing is not allowed from July 1 through Sept. 30 each year. Conch must be more than nine inches long or have a lip thickness of more than 3/8 inch at the thickest point. The daily limit for non-commercial fishermen is three per day and a dozen per boat. Licensed commercial fishermen now may land 150 queen conch per day.
The Caribbean Fishery Management Council falls within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is responsible for creating fishery management plans in the federal waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency is headquartered in Puerto Rico.
Serving on the council from the Virgin Islands are Planning and Natural Resources Commission Dean Plaskett, who is represented by Fish and Wildlife director Barbara Kojas; Monica Lester; and Virdin Brown, who chairs the body.

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Nov. 12, 2001 - The Caribbean Fishery Management Council will hold a public hearing on St. Thomas on Nov. 26 to discuss a plan to close federal offshore waters around the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to queen conch harvesting.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel.
While the council already has regulations concerning season, size and the number of queen conch that can be taken, council habitat specialist Graciela Garcia-Moliner said that the conch continue to be over fished in the area.
She said the regulations cover deeper, offshore federal waters called the Exclusive Economic Zone. "We think that the populations in deeper waters are the spawning populations," she said.
When fishermen harvest them, the conch can't reproduce. "We aren't seeing many juveniles," Garcia-Moliner said.
However, closing the area entirely will take an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan. Currently, queen conch fishing is not allowed from July 1 through Sept. 30 each year. Conch must be more than nine inches long or have a lip thickness of more than 3/8 inch at the thickest point. The daily limit for non-commercial fishermen is three per day and a dozen per boat. Licensed commercial fishermen now may land 150 queen conch per day.
The Caribbean Fishery Management Council falls within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is responsible for creating fishery management plans in the federal waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency is headquartered in Puerto Rico.
Serving on the council from the Virgin Islands are Planning and Natural Resources Commission Dean Plaskett, who is represented by Fish and Wildlife director Barbara Kojas; Monica Lester; and Virdin Brown, who chairs the body.