Description of Puerto Rico’s Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) Fishery Trends After Two Years of the Impact of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico.
AuthorsMatos-Caraballo, D; L.A. Rivera-Padilla; M. Ricaurte- Chica; J. León- Fernandez, W. Santiago- Soler, L.T. Vargas-Denizard; J.M. Lugo-Sánchez Download PDF Open PDF in Browser
The Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) has been a very important fishery in Puerto Rico since 1980s. Since the middle of 1980’s the SCUBA divers fishers shown an increase in their number of active fishers and pounds landed. Currently queen conch fishers are one of the most significant components of the full time commercial fishers. The SCUBA divers primary target is the queen conch and lobsters, thus both species have been in the top five landed in Puerto Rico since 1988. The mentioned facts resulted in large fishing pressure on the queen conch. Hurricane María impacted Puerto Rico. This was a catastrophic hurricane. The Puerto Rico population was impacted with category five winds of 175 – 200 MPH. The hurricane was 300 miles wide. Queen Conch are found in shallow, clear water of oceanic or near-oceanic salinities at depths generally less than 75 meters and most often in water less than 30 meters deep. Queen conchs are likely limited to that depth range by limits in seagrass and algae cover. Unfortunately, it was reported by queen conch fishers that Hurricane María destroyed most of the queen conch banks. Thus the commercial fishers reduce their average catch pert trip from 40 pounds per trip to approximately 12 pounds. The average cost of the queen conch was approximately $6.00 per pound before the hurricane and two years after the hurricane the average increase to $9.00. In the west coast most of the SCUBA commercial fishers that caught 20 to 30 queen conch pounds per trip had been fishing at 115-130 feet depth, resulting in 6 fishers have been in the hyperbaric chamber to receive bends treatments. This paper will present describe the current queen conch fishery, the landings reported by coast and will present the opinions of the commercial fishers to improve this situation.