Many SGA projects in Belize are under development and/or study for the feasibility. Our projects are multi-faceted yet fit into three categories; use of wasted by-products of the conch meat harvest, cleaning the conch habitat and supporting options for the sustainability of the Queen Conch.
A) BY-PRODUCT COLLECTION (from the meat harvest)
For the collection of by-products we are studying our supply chain, with fisher folks in three towns, for freshness and quality control without interfering with the conch meat harvest. We are also working with a business entity as a marketing partner to use these by-products in innovative culinary and artisanal uses.
i) Operculum (foot) of the conch – new markets in art and jewelry to employ artisans
To assist the fisher folks with removing the conch meat without breaking (or knocking) the shell, we have been exploring the use of a meat extraction tool. We have found the prototype, developed in the Turks and Caicos, and are now working with three manufacturers who have re-designed the tool to our specifications for use with shells of various sizes and shapes. We hope to share this tool with conch fishers throughout Belize and eventually with fisher folk in the Bahamas.
B) HABITAT CLEAN-UP
In Belize, the approved harvest method for conch meat has been to take the meat and toss the shell and all (by-products) overboard, into the sea. Unfortunately, this method has shrunk the existing Queen Conch habitat. Like people, even conch do not want to live in a cemetery. The conch like to live in warm, shallow waters however, the littering of conch shells on sea floor has driven live Queen Conch to deeper waters. If the wasted conch shells created reef, or added to our spectacular Meso-American Reef, this project would not be necessary. Conch shells do not biodegrade nor do they create reef. The shell discards from the past 40 years of queen conch harvest are evident in mounds (middens) under the sea.
i) Mapping underwater conch shell mounds (middens) with a GPS
Our habitat clean-up project is still in the formulation stages. We look forward to the opportunity to meeting with the Ministry of Fisheries and related organizations. We believe that something MORE has to be done. Efforts towards conservation and sustainable fishing (harvest) leave our fisher folk seeing shrinking habitats, shorter fishing seasons and lower catch quotas BUT the regulations to date do not address habitat clean-up. Like the forestry industry in North America had to encourage re-planting, SGA believes we need to clean-up the habitat and encourage the Queen Conch to return to their preferred habitat, warm shallow waters.
C) SGA FOR SUSTAINABILITY (of the Queen Conch)
Strombus Gigas Alliance (SGA) is a relatively new organization (NGO status pending) aiming to save the Queen Conch. We seek to improve the sustainability of Queen Conch in the Caribbean. Belize, and other conch harvesting nations, has a cultural heritage of using the whole animal; the meat for food, the shell for decoration and aggregate, the pistol for folkloric virility, and the operculum for jewelry. It is time to stop the waste of the harvest, and re-visit the multiple uses of the by-products. Formally, there are many alliances we would like to establish and nurture in order to stop the waste.
i) Develop affiliations and partnerships with Fisheries Departments, marine organizations and conservation associations (CRFM, Oceana, ACP Fish III, Sustainable Fisheries Groups, Fishermen’s Co-ops, etc.).
Visit this website regularly and see the updates to our PROJECTS page as they happen.