Bahamas queen conch aquaculture gets a $2.8 million boost

Florida Atlantic University launches a queen conch hatchery in Grand Bahama, and plans an "innovation hub" for sustainable island development.
A queen conch shell on a Bahamas beach. Photo: Adobe Stock.
A queen conch shell on a Bahamas beach. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Queen conch aquaculture in the Bahamas will receive a welcome boost, with the news that Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is to establish a queen conch hatchery in Grand Bahama.

The University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has received $2.8 million from Builders Initiative for the hatchery project.

FAU Harbor Branch already operates an extensive aquaculture and food security program focused on replenishing queen conch populations throughout the Caribbean.

The funding, it says, will support the program as well as enabling development of a conceptual master plan for a 25-acre "innovation hub" on Grand Bahama for researchers working on island sustainability.

In collaboration with the Bahamian community of Grand Bahama, FAU researcher Megan Davis will lead a pilot-scale queen conch aquaculture farm. Davis is considered the world's leading expert on queen conch aquaculture, with 40 years of research in the field.

Queen conch "a cornerstone of Bahamian culture and economy"

Through partnerships and collaboration, the project aims to develop new economic and environmental opportunities for the community, in addition to replenishing queen conch populations.

The queen conch, according to an FAU statement, "is considered the cornerstone of the Bahamian culture and economy".

"Having a hatchery operating in the community with full participation from the community will be a great way to not only increase knowledge and awareness of the life cycle of the conch, but it will also allow the opportunity to build relationships, technical skills and solutions together," said Catherine Booker, program coordinator with the Bahamas National Trust.

The news comes amid renewed focus on aquaculture in the Caribbean. Last month Women in Caribbean Aquaculture (WiCA), part of the Caribbean Aquaculture Network (CAN), announced a new collaboration with feed producer BioMar. The aim of the initiative is to support female aquaculture experts and marine scientists in developing sustainable aquaculture in their Caribbean homelands.

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