Who isn’t a stakeholder in the conch debate?

Dear Editor,

According to Michael Pintard, minister of agriculture and marine resources, “a national survey is being conducted among stakeholders about a closed conch season which would protect stocks”.

While there was much in the article that indicated that Pintard does have an inkling of what is going on, I take exception to the fact that I and my family are not being surveyed. Why should I not be included in this survey, and just who is considered a “stakeholder”?

Is a “stakeholder” only one who makes money from the export of conch?

Does my Bahamian child, fisherman or not, have no stake in the outcome of this consideration? Do all political appointees merely consider the incredibly short term of their appointment with no regard for the future of Bahamians and our national resources?

According to Alan Stoner, chief scientist for the conservation organization Community Conch, who has been conducting surveys of conch populations in The Bahamas for more than 20 years, “The density of conch was down to only 10 percent of the original density in very shallow water.”

Anyone who has spent more than an hour researching conch in the Caribbean is well aware that they are headed for extinction. That is a strong statement that can be backed up with facts; facts that come from scientists and other educated people who monitor the health of our fisheries who have no financial or political stake in the outcome of their work.

Any sensible, well-read person in the Bahamas National Trust knows this; any person in fisheries knows this. Yet, money and politics are ruling over our resources’ wellbeing.

Pintard states in the article, “There are some on one hand who feel that we’re not moving fast enough, that we should do it suddenly.”

Pintard should count me, and others who have done any research on this matter, in this group. But, we are not stakeholders?

Those who understand a bit of marine biology know well that the conch is critical to the health of our Bahamian marine ecosystem, and that its existence is presently threatened by many factors.

The science and recent trend of our conch population demands a reasonable and immediate national response: a complete ban on the export of conch; eliminating foreigners from taking any conch at all (this includes American and Dominican fishermen); and actual enforcement of the existing size limits on the taking of conch.

There is no time for pointless surveys. There is no doubt as to the outcome of our conch population if we do not act now. Only those mired in money and politics cannot see these facts.

Future Bahamians who may enjoy conch in their diets, along with the potential tourism benefits, as well as those who may engage in the future harvesting of conch all have an equal, legitimate “stake” in the survival of conch. Presently, our treatment of this species both in law and in practice is woefully insufficient to ensure the conch’s survival in the short term. It may already be too late for our conch.

A leader is one who leads their people into the future.

A politician is, well, just look around you, Pintard. It is time to be proactive, instead of being reactive.

That would be the definition of wisdom.


– Porcupine

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