The Sustainable Tourism Unit of the Ministry of Grand Bahama in partnership with the Bahamas National Trust is scheduled to host a workshop for all conch vendors and suppliers on Thursday, June 29 at the Rand Nature Center from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Jeffrey Pinder, Senior Executive of the Sustainable Tourism Unit Product Department told this daily that the workshop was created to help the conch vendors develop an industry.
“We’re are focusing on customer service. We’ve got partners from the various agencies, licensing from the Port Authority, and the Administrator’s office in East and West Grand Bahama. We’ve got the fisheries department to talk about regulations,” he said.
He furthered that the ministry wants to help the vendor prepare a script as well as present the conch to visitors by sharing its health benefits, and ways to prepare it.
“We’re offering certificates to all of our participants,” he said.
Pinder revealed that so far they have targeted about 40 persons and 22 of them have registered for the workshop.
Clement Campbell, District Superintendent of Department of Marine Resources also spoke to The Freeport News. He stated that he would be a speaker at the workshop.
“On Thursday I’m speaking about the size and the age of the conch, and how to preserve the conch,” he said.
Campbell added the workshop is important to educate the public on the conch itself along with the monetary gain from it.
Nicole B. Colebrooke, Customer Relations Manager of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) stated that the company’s role would be to inform vendors of the licensing procedure.
“On Thursday at the workshop I’m presenting on business the licensing procedure,” she said.
She said the public needs to be aware that being a vendor is a business and an industry and should be treated as such. Vendors would be given the tools they need to grow their business and contribute to this economy.
“The vendors, we have been addressing for a while because we understand that a lot of them operate from the roadside. This is a way in which we want to encourage them,” she said.
Colebrooke said the GBPA welcomes this initiative and looks forward to more like it.
Rico Cargill, Senior Environmental Inspector at the GBPA informed that he would be informing participants at the workshop on the waste management aspects of being conch vendor.
“One of the biggest issues we’re facing on the island is indiscriminate dumping,” he said.
He revealed that conch shells are one of the major items being dumped.
According to Cargill, if the conch shells are not properly disposed of they could harbor water, which attracts mosquitos that come with their own host of illness such as dengue fever, malaria, and the zika virus.
Ellsworth Weir, Senior Park Warden of the BNT also spoke to this daily during the recent press conference. He stated that a piority in the workshop is to inform the vendors about the conservation campaign “that was rolled out recently in Grand Bahama and it’s been well received so far. Our focus is more from an educational standpoint. We want to inform the public of proper conch harvesting techniques such as waiting to harvest a conch until its lip is 15 millimeters. We have seen that once it gets to that size, it has likely reproduced,” he said.
This is essential to replenishing the conch supply because one conch produces up to 500,000 eggs.
Weir stated that the BNT wants to ensure that conch is available for many years to come.