It looks like the crew of Sailing Uma acted irresponsibly and filmed themselves potentially encouraging their 96,000 subscribers others to allegedly poach conch. Sailing Uma possessed 20 conch by their own admission. That was 14 conch over the limit for foreign boats in the Bahamas. Some of the conch that they took aboard appeared to have unformed lips of juveniles, which the captain of Sailing Uma, Dan Deckert, admitted. Shame on them! A recent report warns that the Conch fishery could disappear in ten years. Cruisers should not help push it over the edge by exceeding the limits.
Moreover, at the time of writing, over 50,000 people had viewed the video of the alleged poaching. Lonnie Knowles, who was upset about the harvest in the Sailing Uma video, wrote a Facebook post critical about the Sailing Uma video wrote, “..those are juvenile, it is illegal to harvest them.” YouTube creators with a over 96,000 subscribers like Sailing Uma set an example for their viewers.
This is from Slow Boat Sailing’s correspondence with Bahamas Department of Marine Resources dated 1/23/19:
“1. Foreign vessels with relevant permits including the sportsfishing are still permitted to harvest conch in The Bahamas;
2. The Bahamas’ law states that all harvested conch must have a well formed lip, If you are unsure, I suggest that you harvest only those with a thick lip;
3. Your allowable quota (each person), if you are exiting The Bahamas on a airplane, is the possession of not more than ten(10) pounds of conch at any one time;
4. If you are exiting on a licensed sportsfishing vessel, the vessel’s allowable quota is the possession of not more than six (6) conch at any one time.
Mr. Gilford Lloyd
Department of Marine Resources”
The captain of SV Uma and the creator of the Sailing Uma YouTube channel, Dan Deckert wrote as follows responding to Mr. Knowles critical post in the Bahamas Sailing and Cruising Facebook Group:
“One of our followers led us over to this discussion. So let’s set the record straight. Between the 4 of us, we picked up about 20 Conch and took them back to the boat in the crate. Only about 9 were eaten. The rest went back in the ocean because they were too small. Sorry if that didn’t make it into the video, perhaps it should have. But those watching are responsible for learning and obeying the laws. It’s not our job to educate those unwilling to educate themselves.”
Sailing Uma’s crew at the end of the video said they planned to stay in the Bahamas until February 2019 and leave before their cruising permit ran out. The 7:58 minute mark of the video shows their 20-conch catch.
If you believe the after-the-fact explanation, 20 in the dinghy is also over the old 6 per boat rule. Finally, not all things are legal are worth doing. Shame on Sailing Uma! All cruisers of the Bahamas should think carefully about harvesting or consuming conch that is threatened. The Bahamas is likely behind the curve on preserving the conch fishery, and cruisers should not speed the collapse of the species in the Bahamas which has collapsed all over Florida and the Caribbean.