The OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules has expressed great optimism in the creation of a sustainable conch industry which will help to create livelihoods and preserve this importance resource for future generations.
His comments came as he spoke after the conclusion of a two- day regional workshop of the OECS Blue BioTrade Action Plan for the queen conch value chain at the Sunset Shores Hotel.
This workshop brought together Fisheries Stakeholders from across the region, as well as representatives from the European Union and the United Nations Conference on trade and development unit.
The trade in conch has been estimated at a current but increasing value of 68 million dollars with data from cites showing that between 1992 and 2001, 21.61 million pounds of conch was exported from the region.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Development Plan 2013-2025 Re-engineering Economic Growth: Improving the Quality of Life for all Vincentians This important resource is however threatened by overfishing and climate change.
Conchs take around 4 to 5 years to become mature for reproduction, with hatcheries providing a safe environment for them to grow and reproduce. Union Island is set to have a hatchery established.
The OECS Director General said the creation of a hatchery on Union Island was one of the key issues discussed and believed that such a facility will be of critical importance to the sustainability of the conch industry.
He added that all supporting architecture including legal and scientific and financial must be put in place to allow the industry to grow organically.