Lessons Learned from Queen Conch

Go Lean Commentary

So you think you are independent?

Just consider the lessons from the Queen Conch and discover exactly how independent, or interdependent, you truly are.

This is just one of the many lessons that the Queen Conch teaches Caribbean stakeholders.

According to the subsequent news article, there is a “Minority Report” (WildEarth Guardians) that the Queen Conch may be endangered and facing extinction. A Federal Government (US) agency listened intently to the concerns expressed by advocates alerting them of the conch’s dwindling status – an argument of extinction. Stakeholders in the Caribbean should have been sitting on “pins and needles” for the verdict. If this agency agreed with the Minority Report … Boom!

No more conch imports to the US. Further the host countries would have to regulate their conch fisheries to better manage the stock in national and international waters. Life as we know it, in the affected countries, would change forever; see VIDEOs below.

Where is your independence now?!

The publishers of book Go Lean…Caribbean monitor the developments in the societal engines related to the economic, security and governing aspect of Caribbean life.  The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), an agency for managing integration and “common cause” issues for all the Caribbean. The issues in the following news article  highlights the subject matter of “Common Pool Resources“:

Title: No conch ban; Queen conch ‘not currently in danger of extinction’
By: K. Quincy Parker, Business Editor

CU Blog - Lessons Learned from Queen Conch - Photo 1The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has decided not to place the queen conch on the endangered species list, erasing fears of a U.S. import ban on one of the Caribbean’s most valuable marine resources.

Concern over the potential of a conch ban was evident in the region, given the importance of conch exports to the Caribbean. Conch meat exports from 12 Caribbean countries are about 14,000 tons and contribute around $185 million in earnings. Even the shells are exported, albeit to a far lesser extent. CARICOM states together are the main suppliers of queen conch on the international market.

The matter was raised recently at the sixth meeting of the CARICOM-United States Trade and Investment Council (TIC) in Nassau.

In 2013, The Bahamas exported $4.2 million in fresh and frozen conch, practically all of it to the U.S. The value of conch shell exports was $43,700.

Study and findings
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of the NOAA responsible for the stewardship of living marine resources within the United States’ exclusive economic zone, conducted a 12-month study and on Wednesday issued its determination on the petition to list the queen conch (Strombus gigas) as threatened or endangered under the United States’ Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We have completed a comprehensive status report for the queen conch in response to the petition submitted by WildEarth Guardians,” NFMS said. “Based on the best scientific and commercial information available…we have determined that the species does not warrant listing at this time.”

The NMFS explained the process through which the decision had been made. First NMFS conducted a biological review of the species’ taxonomy, distribution, abundance, life history and biology. Available information on threats affecting the species’ status was compiled into a status report, which also defined the foreseeable future for the NMFS evaluation of extinction risk.

The group then established a group of biologists and marine mollusk experts – referred to as the Extinction Risk Analysis (ERA) group – to conduct a threats assessment for the queen conch, using the information in the status report. The ERA group was comprised of six Endangered Species Act policy experts from NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources and its southeast and southwest regional office’s protected resources divisions; three biologists with fisheries management expertise from NMFS’ southeast region’s sustainable fisheries division, and two marine mollusk biologists from NMFS’ northwest and southeast fisheries science centers. The ERA group had expertise in marine mollusk biology, ecology, population dynamics, ESA policy and fisheries management. The group members were asked to independently evaluate the severity, scope, and certainty for each threat currently and in the foreseeable future, which they qualified as 15 years from now.

After the year-long investigation, the ERA spoke.

“We conclude that the queen conch is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, nor is it not likely to become so within the foreseeable future,” the NMFS reported.
The Nassau Guardian; Bahamas Daily Newspaper (Posted 11/07/2014; Retrieved 12/30/2014) –

The foregoing article trumpets the need for regional stewardship of resources that traverse from one member-state to another: sovereign democracies and overseas territories in and around the Caribbean Sea. The following 3 prime directives are explored in full details in the roadmap:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

For the Queen Conch, there is no border consideration, they move and multiply from one Caribbean member-state to another. So there needs to be an administration over Caribbean Common Pool Resource that is agnostic of borders. This is the role of a super-national organization to provide the effective integration and administration for the region. All the geographical member-states, 30 in all, need to confederate, collaborate, and convene with the CU for Common Pool Resource solutions. This pronouncement is made in the Declaration of Interdependence, (Page 10 & 11). The statements are included as follows:

Preamble: While our rights to exercise good governance and promote a more perfect society are the natural assumptions among the powers of the earth, no one other than ourselves can be held accountable for our failure to succeed if we do not try to promote the opportunities that a democratic society fosters.

iii.  Whereas the natural formation of the landmass for our society is that of an archipelago of islands, inherent to this nature is the limitation of terrain and the natural resources there in. We must therefore provide “new guards” and protections to ensure the efficient and effective management of these resources.

The vision of this Go Lean roadmap is a confederation of the 30 member-states of the Caribbean into an integrated “Single Market” – Dutch, English, French and Spanish homelands – vested with the powers, tools and techniques to conduct the oversight role and responsibility for the region’s Common Pool Resource. The governance will include an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the 1,063,000 square miles of the Caribbean Sea and a separation-of-powers between the CU federal and member-state Environmental Protection governing agencies. The Go Lean book details these series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies designed to foster regional oversight and solutions for the Queen Conch … and other Caribbean resources:

Anecdote – Caribbean Single Market & Economy Page 15
Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – Consequences of Choice Lie in Future Page 21
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategic – Vision – Integrated Region in a Single Market Page 45
Strategic – Vision – Agents of Change: Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Confederating a Non-sovereign Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Growing to $800 Billion Regional Economy – Exploration of EEZ resources Page 67
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Interstate Commerce   Administration Page 79
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Environmental Control   & Regulatory Commission Page 83
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Agriculture and   Fisheries Department Page 88
Anecdote – Turning Around The Current Regional Administration: CariCom Page 92
Anecdote – Success Story: “Lean” in Government Page 93
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change – EEZ Exploration Rights Page 101
Implementation – Foreign Policy Initiatives at Start-up – US Relationship Page 102
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up – Border Security Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region – # 3 Integrated Homeland Security Page 127
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade Page 128
Planning – Ways to Improve Interstate Commerce – Trade SHIELD Page 129
Planning – Ways to Model the EU – Deputized   Agencies for Entire Region Page 130
Planning – Ways to Measure Progress – Big Data Capture and Analysis Page 147
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Anecdote – Governmental Integration: CariCom Parliament Page 167
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security – Caribbean Naval Authority Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage Natural Resources – Common Pool Resources Page 183
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage – Natural Resources Oversight Page 22?
Appendix – Trade SHIELD – “Enforcement“ Trade -versus- Environment Paradox Page 264

As mentioned in the foregoing article, the 12 conch exporting countries and (US) territories in the Caribbean are as follows:

Aruba, (Netherlands Antilles) Dominican Republic
Barbados Grenada (the “Grenadines”)
Bahamas Jamaica
Belize Martinique / Saint Barthélemy
Bermuda Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin Islands US / Puerto Rico
Cuba US / Virgin Islands

CU Blog - Lessons Learned from Queen Conch - Photo 3

The problem for the Queen Conch lie in the management (or lack there-of) for Common Pool Resources. There are now threats and risks to the viability of this Caribbean inhabitant. There are attempts at conservation too. Consider this encyclopedic information[1] as follows:

CU Blog - Lessons Learned from Queen Conch - Photo 4Photo: The island of Anegada, British Virgin Islands, a heap consisting of thousands of queen conch shells discarded after their flesh was taken for human consumption.

Within the conch fisheries, one of the threats to sustainability stems from the fact that there is almost as much meat in large juveniles as there is in adults, but only adult conchs can reproduce, and thus sustain a population.[62] In many places where adult conchs have become rare due to overfishing, larger juveniles and sub-adults are taken before they ever mate.[62][69] On a number of islands, sub-adults provide the majority of the harvest.[70] Lobatus gigas abundance is declining throughout its range as a result of overfishing and poaching. Populations in Honduras, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in particular, are currently being exploited at rates considered unsustainable. Trade from many Caribbean countries is known or thought to be unsustainable. Illegal harvest, including fishing in foreign waters and subsequent illegal international trade, is a common problem.[50] The Caribbean “International Queen Conch Initiative” is an international attempt at managing this species.[52]

CU Blog - Lessons Learned from Queen Conch - Photo 2The queen conch fishery is usually managed under the regulations of individual nations. In the United States all taking of queen conch is prohibited in Florida and in adjacent Federal waters. No international regional fishery management organization exists for the whole Caribbean area, but in places such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, queen conch is regulated under the auspices of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC).[50] In 1990, the Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) included queen conch in Annex II of its Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol) as a species that may be used on a rational and sustainable basis, but that requires protective measures.

This species has been mentioned in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1985.[32] In 1992 the United States proposed queen conch for listing in CITES Appendix II, making queen conch the first large-scale fisheries product to be regulated by CITES (as Strombus gigas).[50][71][72] In 1995 CITES began reviewing the biological and trade status of the queen conch under its “Significant Trade Review” process. These reviews are undertaken to address concerns about trade levels in an Appendix II species. Based on the 2003 review,[63] CITES recommended that all countries prohibit importation from Honduras, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, according to Standing Committee Recommendations.[73] Queen conch meat continues to be available from other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, which operate well-managed queen conch fisheries.[50]

The Go Lean roadmap for the CU stresses the importance of common pool resource management. Managing the quota and harvesting seasons of seafood stock is a classic role for governmental agencies. But without the CU, there is no jurisdiction for the international waters between the islands. The area of “Fisheries” is a big economic engine for the coastal communities, but mitigating the risks of stock depletion would be a priority for the CU. This oversight is necessary for Queen Conch, plus other seafood stock like lobster, grouper and flying fish.

While the Minority Report by the “WildEarth Guardians” group in the foregoing news article may not have been adhered to by the US government, Caribbean stakeholders need to take heed. We have more at stake; any depletion of Queen Conch populations, endangered, extinct or not, is a serious matter of concern for our homeland.

The Go Lean book, foregoing news article and the encyclopedia references above all recommend a best-practice for the Caribbean: technocratic administration of the regional common pool resources, regardless of independence or sovereignty consideration. This is a matter of interdependence and survival of Caribbean culture and our way of life. See VIDEO #1 below demonstrating conch preparation in the Bahamas and VIDEO #2 revealing a Belizean recipe for the Caribbean conch delicacy.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for this Caribbean integration roadmap, this exercise in “single market” promotion. Now is the time to Go Lean and make the Caribbean region a better homeland to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Referenced Citations:

32. McCarthy, K. (2007). “A review of queen conch (Strombus gigas) life-history. Sustainable Fisheries Division NOAA. SEDAR 14-DW-4.
50. NOAA.Queen Conch (Strombus gigas). Retrieved 4 July 2009.
52.“International Queen Conch Initiative”. NOAA: Caribbean Fishery Management Council. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
62.“Virgin Islands Vacation Guide & Community”. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
63. CITES (2003). Review of Significant Trade in specimens of Appendix-II species. (Resolution Conf. 12.8 and Decision 12.75). Nineteenth meeting of the Animals Committee, Geneva (Switzerland), 18–21.
69. Theile, S. (2001). “Queen conch fisheries and their management in the Caribbean”. Traffic Europe (CITES): 1–77.
70. Oxenford, H. A.; et al. (2007). Fishing and marketing of queen conch (Strombus gigas) in Barbados. CERMES Technical Report Number 16. University of the West Indies, Barbados: Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies.
71.Appendices I, II and III. cites.org website. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
72.NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs website: CITES. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
73.“Standing Committee Recommendations”. CITES Official Documents No 2003/057. 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2010.


Appendix – VIDEO # 1http://youtu.be/lqHwoX3VXeY – Conch Salad – Eleuthera Island, Bahamas – Martha Stewart


Appendix – VIDEO # 2http://youtu.be/w1JP05CeA9A – Conch Fritters: Fry Jack – Cooking with Flavors of Belize & Chef Sean Kuylen

Published on Jan 14, 2014 – A classic Belizean dish, perfect for an appetizer at dinner time or a quick snack. And as usual, Chef Sean puts his spin on things adding Belikin Lighthouse Beer to the batter while giving chefs at home good tips when preparing this simple dish.

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