Queen conch could one day be on endangered species list

Conchy Joe's keeps popular menu item coming

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. - A popular sea mollusk that lives in the St. Lucie Inlet waters could soon be wiped off your dining menu.

Harvesting in Florida is prohibited, so the conch fritters you eat at places like Conchy Joe's in Jensen Beach contain queen conch from the Caribbean.

"It would be a shame if we couldn't make the world's best conch chowder any more," said Nick Darley, general manager for Conchy Joe's Seafood Restaurant. "But if it means having (conch) rejuvenate, then it's OK."

Megan Davis-Hodgkins, the Associate Executive Director of Research at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University, said queen conch are being considered for listing as an endangered species. She said the numbers of queen conch have been declining because of overfishing.

"It is getting harder and harder to fish conch. I work a lot in the Turks and Caicos, with the fish clients there and the fishermen there, and I know they have to look further and further and further for their conch," said Megan.

If queen conch are designated as endangered, they would no longer be harvested for consumption.

But experts say it could be years before the government makes a decision on whether or not the conch will make that list.

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