Volume 58

Fisheries of the Turks and Caicos Islands: Status and Threats

Lockhart, K., C. de Fontaubert, W. Clerveaux
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Date: November, 2005

Pages: 67-72

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

City: San Andres

Country: Colombia


The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are home to one of the last healthy queen conch fisheries in the Wider Caribbean. Indeed, the Turks and Caicos populations of Strombus gigas are deemed by the Scientific Committee of CITES to be of no concern, a starkly different situation from that of many other fisheries in the region. Concurrently, however, the fishery for spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, gives rise to rather more concern, though the exact status of the stock is difficult to assess. These two fisheries are managed completely differently, with a closed season, and national size and gear restrictions for the spiny lobster, but through a CITES quota for queen conch, even though the TCI are not a member to that convention, along with national gear and size restrictions. While fisheries are not the primary industry of the TCI, ranking a mere third in percentage of GDP behind tourism and offshore banking, a large part of the population still depends on healthy fisheries, either directly or indirectly. This is particularly true in some of the more remote islands, like South Caicos where up to 70% of the population is dependent on this resource. In addition, as the tourism industry develops, new pressure is being applied to finfish stocks even though, here again, very little is known on the status of the stocks. This paper summarizes the current state of these three fisheries, identifies areas of success and relative difficulties and assesses the new governmental policy, currently developed by the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources to address these growing pressures.

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