Queen conch in the Grenadines islands: A preliminary assessment on its abundance and current management needs [graduate project].
Garcia Rodriguez, Alba
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The queen conch (Lobatus gigas) is a very important fisheries resource among Caribbean countries due to its cultural and economic value. However, queen conch has been overexploited in many areas of the Caribbean. In Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the conch fishery has been an essential part of local livelihoods for the past century. Despite the importance of conch in the area, knowledge of the current status of the population is limited. Therefore, an abundance assessment was conducted to contribute data on conch density and distribution. In addition, the effectiveness of current conch conservation measures was assessed. Conch density was determined following the underwater survey methods of a study conducted in 2013 in the same study area. Surveys were completed within the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP), as well as outside the marine protected area. Results showed reduced conch density in comparison to results from the 2013 study. In addition, the TCMP seemed to have no effect towards conch protection, as there was no significant difference in conch abundance inside and outside the park. Furthermore, the abundance of juveniles inside the park was lower in 2016 when compared to results from 2013. Multiple factors could have influenced these findings and, therefore, further research is required to better understand the current density of this species. The results and recommendations of this study, combined with continued monitoring, could contribute to better-informed conch fishery management in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.