Two men are in custody after marine police intercepted them in a boat en route to St. Lucia with a considerable amount of conch or “lambie” as it is locally known.
Marine Unit Commander Finley Leonce said the matter is currently under investigation and the vessel in question is at the Marine Unit compound in Castries. He promised further details in a subsequent report.
Conch is globally deemed a vulnerable species and hence is listed under the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). While there is no “closed season” locally for hunting conch, a CITES permit would be needed by anyone wishing to import or export the species. Moreover, permission is also needed from the chief fisheries officer to conduct cross-border trade.
Chief Fisheries Officer Sarita Williams-Peter told to HTS News4orce that a country issuing a CITES permit would basically be stating that its conch population or any species under the license is healthy enough and that it is acceptable to extract that amount for the purpose of exportation.
“For importation, the process is usually conducted through a myriad of agencies through the Ministry of Trade and there is a process for that. When you bring it (conch) in, there is a customs requirement, quarantine requirement, before it can come into the country,” she added.
The chief fisheries officer noted that there are penalties under the customs, fisheries, health and trade acts for the illegal trading of conch and other such species.
“So there are certain requirements that must be met before you can bring in products especially for food consumption. It’s a safety issue as well – [you have to look at] where you’re getting a product [and] was it stored properly; how would it impact people if they were to eat this [and] if it was not inspected by an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, particularly the Veterinary Division,” Williams-Peter stated.
According to travel.ga.ca.com, a Canadian government website, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an agreement to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants do not threaten their survival.
Some species of wildlife can be legally traded, but many require permits to cross international borders.