April 20, 2012
Each day, as the bulk of the team’s divers head out to the reefs aboard the Calcutta, a group of four divers from Colombia hops in a smaller boat to go looking for queen conch. It’s a continuation of work that’s been underway since 2003 to study conch populations in the archipelago here.
That was when the Colombian government first closed their conch fishery, except for limited collections by those with special licenses for subsistence fishing. They took this drastic step because the conch populations had plummeted, especially around the archipelago’s inhabited islands, San Andres, Old Providence, and Santa Catalina, about 250 kilometers south of us.
You can find queen conch in at least 36 countries, and they’ve been so overfished in many places that the species is now listed as a threatened fishery on Appendix II for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.