Here’s a juicy tidbit for you visitors and Bahamians alike, who look forward to a basket of hot and spicy fritters every so often: your Friday night fish fry may be in danger of a menu change; that is, if we don’t act quickly to save one of our most popular food items – the Queen Conch.
The sea mollusk, now commercially extinct in many countries around the world, has recently been in danger of vanishing from Bahamian plates and seas.
As well as causing a significant blow to the restaurant industry, this alarming possibility could seriously impact the Bahamian economy, which depends on the fisheries industry to provide millions of dollars from its exports and local sales; in 2012, alone, over 546,000 pounds of conch were exported internationally.
Even if you’re not a fan of the food, you may – like many others – be fond of the beautiful pink shells, which adorn the Bahamian Coat of Arms and which many local artists transform into works of art and distinct souvenirs to be sold in local galleries and tourist hotspots, like the Prince George Wharf.
While the situation is serious, there may be hope, yet – the Bahamas National Conchservation Campaign was started in April 2013, in efforts to create a responsible and sustainable conch industry. What’s more, Dolphin Encounters and Blue Lagoon Island are getting in on the action.
Known for its Project B. E. A. C. H. (The Bahamas Education Association for Cetacean Health), Dolphin Encounters has long been involved in giving Bahamian educators and students the opportunities they need to learn more about Bahamian marine life. This year, the Dolphin Encounters team is paying homage to the Conchservation Campaign through its 2014 Marine Education Poster Contest.
An annual event, the Contest takes place each spring, when young Bahamian artists are invited to express their environmental concerns through poster art. To help kick off the annual contest, Dolphin Encounters’ education staff travel to dozens of schools in the Bahamas to present a free Marine Assembly Program on that year’s topic. This year was no exception; staff members were able to reach more than 1,000 students and teachers to tell them about this year’s theme – “Dive into Conch.”
With judging taking place on March 12, the skilled applicants can look forward to receiving their results on March 14.