Volume 58

A Simulation of Fishery Management Strategies for Overexploited Queen Conch Stocks

Valle-Esquivel, M.
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Date: November, 2005

Pages: 417-420

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Eighth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres

Country: Colombia


It is well known that many queen conch (Strombus gigas) stocks throughout the Caribbean have been depleted or are undergoing serious declines in abundance due to overfishing. Thorough quantitative analyses are needed to assess stock status relative to fishing pressure, to design appropriate management programs, and to predict the effect of regulations. The goal of this study was to evaluate alternative management strategies for overfished queen conch stocks via simulation. A simulation model was developed that incorporates essential features of conch biology, population dynamics, and fisheries, and that represents a range of plausible management scenarios. The current model configuration is loosely based on the Puerto Rican conch fishery, but has the flexibility to replicate other real situations. A series of simulations were carried out to evaluate management regulations in the form of gradual reductions in effort, seasonal closures, moratoria, minimum size limits, and different combinations of these. Projections based on current fishing practices were not sustainable and led to stock collapse, while the implementation of management strategies showed that stock recovery may be achieved within a reasonable period. Performance indices (stock size, spawning biomass, and yield) suggested that the use of shell-lip limits in combination with other methods would promote conservation of the resource and secure future yields. These findings, and further application of the model to other case studies, may have important implications for conch fisheries management in the region.

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