Conch fishery lucrative, imperiled
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This spring, Glenn visited fishermen on the Vineyard and in Bourne to discuss possibly increasing the minimum catch size limit from 2.75 inches to 3.5 inches, the point at which his team found that 50 percent of conch are sexually mature. This fall the state will hold public hearings on the proposed regulations.
Benefit is skeptical that a new size restriction will help much and estimates it will put most of the current conch fishermen out of business. He proposes shutting down the fishery in August when the catch drops and scientists and fishermen believe the animals are breeding.
“If you don’t have enforcement now, what’s a half inch gonna do?” he said. “It’s like every other fishery they have: Wait until it’s depleted then put so many restrictions on it that you can’t fish it again. The conch will come back quick, maybe five years. But that’s a long time when you’re paying off a mortgage.”