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News Article

January 26, 2013
The conch salad evolution

Bahamian cuisine is really a melting pot of cuisines from a number of countries -- honestly, there isn't one dish that you can point to and say that's Bahamian. But if you really think about it, the conch salad may just be that national dish that we would like to say is all ours. It's a dish that most Bahamians love, and everyone has their favorite conch salad maker that they visit religiously. And it's a dish that as simple as "pie" to make and entails simple ingredients -- conch, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, cucumber, celery and lime/orange -- with people adding in and taking out ingredients according to their likes and dislikes.
In recent times though the basic conch salad has seen an evolution as conch makers gave in to their creativity. Don't be surprised to see your favorite conch salad vendor mixing up a batch with fruit like pineapple, mango and apple thrown in. Or even boiling the conch skin (with seasonings of their choice), a portion of the conch that was usually discarded, and making what is known as a boiled skin salad -- which is simply a regular conch salad made with the boiled skin which they say is more tender and less chewy.
One such vendor giving in to his creative side and doling out more than just a standard conch salad is Stephen 'Popeye' Dean, 35, who recently opened Popeye's Conch Stall at Thompson Boulevard and Moss Street at The Reef.
According to Dean, conch salad makers are being challenged to be more creative with making conch salad, all because of a curveball that was thrown by a conch salad maker out of Grand Bahama. He said it was a Grand Bahamian conch salad maker that initially put apples into his conch salad first. Consequently he said it was a Grand Bahamian vendor that also started the trend of adding the juice from an orange to the salad as well. As there were times when sour oranges were difficult to find, so to temper the sharpness of the limes that had to be used, the juice from an orange was added. Before that trend, it was pure lime or sour orange juice.
"People were like 'oh I like this [apple in the conch salad]' and we went with it and it just took off," he said.
It was from that initial foray that conch salad makers started adding mangos, with pineapple being the most recent addition. Dean said he is in the process of contemplating adding strawberries.
The conch salad vendor of 19 years said the secret to adding fruit to conch salad is to use fresh fruit that is not too ripe. If it's too ripe, he said the salad will in turn be too sweet, and that is not the flavor profile that is being sought. With the addition of the fruit he said, the conch salad flavor should still come through with just a hint of sweetness.
As what is known as the conch salad begins to take on even more flavor profiles, Dean said the one thing he doesn't want to see happen is for the conch salad to lose its flavor as people start to go overboard. He said he recently heard of someone putting plantain into a conch salad.
"I don't think we should take the conch salad too much further because it will make it too costly most importantly -- the more fruits added in, the more the salad will go up. Then there's the fact that if you put too much fruit in it, it won't add up to the right taste. You want the basic taste of the conch salad, but to give people that extra taste of something that will make them go hmmm," said Dean.
Dean offers seven salad offerings at his stall -- regular conch salad, tropical conch salad, scorch conch salad, whelk and conch salad, boiled skin salad, herb salad and lobster salad.
And he said making conch salad is definitely an art form he would like to see people do correctly -- and includes knowing how to select the correct limes and oranges. If the citrus is starting to turn, he said the salad definitely would not taste right. And he said the citrus should be cut and squeezed a certain way as well, so as to not allow any bitterness to seep into the salad.
Who knows where conch salad will be taken next, but for right now, Dean said requests for tropical conch salads are keeping pace with his sales for the regular salad.
And if you're not a fan of conch salad with all the herbs, Dean said you can get a tropical scorched conch in which the only vegetable added is the onion and the fruit with the conch.
Dean got his start at the stall of the late Leroy 'B Man' Sands at the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, when there only three stalls on the now bustling thoroughfare.
The then 16-year-old said he learned how to make the conch salad from the ground up. Before he was even given permission to hold a knife, he said he was only allowed to lift the conch shell. He then advanced to cracking the conch out of the shell, which he said he had to sit and watch to learn how to do properly before he was tasked with skinning the conch, all of which he had to be before he was given a knife to make his first conch salad.
Popeye's Conch Stall is located at Thompson Boulevard and Moss Street at The Reef. Dean's operating hours are 12 noon to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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News Article

May 03, 2013
Conch and Bahamian Youth

Dear Editor,
The recent Bahamas National Trust first National Natural History Conference held at COB was notable for a number of reasons. The conference chronicled a number of scientific papers on a wide range...

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News Article

November 06, 2014
No conch ban Queen conch 'not currently in danger of extinction'

The United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has decided not to place the queen conch on the endangered species list, erasing fears of a U.S. import ban on one of the Caribbean's most valuable marine resources.
Concern over the potential of a conch ban was evident in the region, given the importance of conch exports to the Caribbean. Conch meat exports from 12 Caribbean countries are about 14,000 tons and contribute around $185 million in earnings. Even the shells are exported, albeit to a far lesser extent. CARICOM states together are the main suppliers of queen conch on the international market.
The matter was raised recently at the sixth meeting of the CARICOM-United States Trade and Investment Council (TIC) in Nassau.
In 2013, The Bahamas exported $4.2 million in fresh and frozen conch, practically all of it to the U.S. The value of conch shell exports was $43,700.

Study and findings
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of the NOAA responsible for the stewardship of living
marine resources within the United States' exclusive economic zone, conducted a 12-month study and on Wednesday issued its determination on the petition to list the queen conch (Strombus gigas) as threatened or endangered under the United States' Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"We have completed a comprehensive status report for the queen conch in response to the petition submitted by WildEarth Guardians," NFMS said. "Based on the best scientific and commercial information available...we have determined that the species does not warrant listing at this time."
The NMFS explained the process through which the decision had been made. First NMFS conducted a biological review of the species' taxonomy, distribution, abundance, life history and biology. Available information on threats affecting the species' status was compiled into a status report, which also defined the foreseeable future for the NMFS evaluation of extinction risk.
The group then established a group of biologists and marine mollusk experts - referred to as the Extinction Risk Analysis (ERA) group - to conduct a threats assessment for the queen conch, using the information in the status report. The ERA group was comprised of six Endangered Species Act policy experts from NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and its southeast and southwest regional office's protected resources divisions; three biologists with fisheries management expertise from NMFS' southeast region's sustainable fisheries division, and two marine mollusk biologists from NMFS' northwest and southeast fisheries science centers. The ERA group had expertise in marine mollusk biology, ecology, population dynamics, ESA policy and fisheries management. The group members were asked to independently evaluate the severity, scope, and certainty for each threat currently and in the foreseeable future, which they qualified as 15 years from now.
After the year-long investigation, the ERA spoke.
"We conclude that the queen conch is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, nor is it not likely to become so within the foreseeable future," the NMFS reported.

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News Article

April 26, 2013
Fishermen fear conch season

Amid a national campaign to save the conch, fishermen fear radical measures could jeopardize their livelihoods.
The precious mollusc plays a crucial role in the country's economy, culture and national identity. However, overfishing, premature harvesting and poaching by foreign vessels have reduced the conch population to alarming levels.
Many environmentalists worry the conch could be pushed to the brink of extinction. Bahamians will have their chance to offer their concerns and recommendations at the official launch of "Conchservation" tomorrow at Arawak Cay from noon until 4 p.m.
Adrian La Roda, a spokesperson for the Bahamas Commercial Fishers
Alliance (BCFA), said that industry supports the sustainable harvesting of marine resources.
Careful thought and consultation should take place with fishermen, he said, to ensure no hasty decisions are made.
"We do not agree with specifying a conch season," he explained. "Sustainability is first and foremost, but the implementation of conservation efforts has to be well thought out and not done by a select group of people. Trust me, the information fishermen have is more valuable."
La Roda argues that imposing seasonal fishing or an outright ban would cripple the industry. Instead, the BCFA is pushing for protected areas and having established nurseries.
"They would have enough of a population to sustain the other areas that are not protected. Conchs will eventually migrate," he told Guardian Business. "Right now they would love to say, put in a season or close it down. We would never agree to it. But we do agree there needs to be conservation."
One stumbling block to progress is the government does not have the resources to perform accurate marine studies, La Roda said. The only solution is to go directly to Bahamians that are actively harvesting the conch.
Jared Dillet, co-coordinator of the Conchservation campaign, agreed that there are sparse statistics when it comes to conch. Little is known about how much conch is consumed domestically on a yearly basis. While the animal is apparently the country's second largest export, after lobster, the campaign did not know exactly how much is sold abroad on an annual basis.
All Dillet knows is more information is needed and a national dialogue is underway.
"This is about engagement. We have to take it to the people and have some intense discussions," he said.
When asked by Guardian Business if enforcing a conch season is on the table, he said, "I'm sure it will be there. But there are other management measures, such has ensuring conchs being harvested are of a certain maturity. Enforcement isn't our mandate, but there are provisions out there that if a conch is immature, there is a fine and possible imprisonment."
Policing illegal conch fishing, however, is entirely another matter in an archipelagic nation. The Bahamas has struggled with enforcing the rules and regulations of the fishing industry for years, particularly the issue of poaching from neighboring countries.
Dillet said these realities can not be used as an excuse, or a cultural symbol of The Bahamas could indeed fade away.
"If we do not manage the resource, it can go towards extinction. We have to look at our stocks and make decisions," he said.
The Conchservation campaign is being spearheaded by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT). Back in March, the Sandals Foundation made a $15,000 donation to get the campaign started. U.S. environmentalist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will attend tomorrow's event.

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News Article

October 17, 2014
COB music students create conch salad with a melodic twist

Who knew that conch salad could be so melodic? The music students at The College of The Bahamas and the faculty members who helped them create a new compilation of original and classic Bahamian melodies.
The result is a CD entitled Melodic Conch Salad, produced by the ensemble MUIN242, which will be launched today at 7p.m. at the Bahamas National Trust, Village Road.
"The most rewarding part was hearing the final version in the studio," said Lynden Sands, group member and second-year music major.
"We could not believe what we accomplished."
This is just one of the ways that demonstrates how students of The College are not only learning from the quality instruction for which the institution is known, but are using that knowledge to create and produce quality work themselves.
According to the students, the experience was fascinating.
"We could not believe what we had accomplished," Sands said.
"Overall, Melodic Conch Salad musically illustrates the process of making conch salad, from growing the vegetables to catching the conch to adding the perfect blend of spices."
Other members of the ensemble are Leslie Forbes, Elvin Hanna, Gillard Louis and Matthew Rolle II. Group members first came together in 2013 as part of COB's ensemble performance class (MUIN 255), led by Dr. Christine Gangelhoff.
For the students' final class performance, the group selected the repertoire, created the arrangements and rehearsed the program.
Group members decided that one performance was not a sufficient showcase for the music, which led to the idea of creating an album.
Melodic Conch Salad features works by Blind Blake, Tony McKay, E. Clement Bethel, Christian Justilien, and a composition named "COB" by ensemble member Matthew Rolle II, an original rake 'n scrape tribute to the group's alma mater.
Gangelhoff, executive producer of the CD, called it a "tremendously rewarding experience."
"They were up for any challenge and exceeded my expectations time and time again," she said.
"Considering this innovative recording evolved from a one-credit music course makes it all the more remarkable.
"I am extremely proud of what they have accomplished and feel confident they will serve as outstanding role models to future generations of Bahamian musicians."
Melodic Conch Salad was recorded in June of this year in Tower Heights Studio in Nassau.
It was produced, engineered and mastered by Terry Manning.
Gangelhoff and Justilien were also the musical directors.
You can listen to a sample of the Melodic Conch Salad CD on Youtube.

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News Article
Tony Macaroni's Conch Experience celebrate 22 years in Grand Bahamas
August 07, 2014
Tony Macaroni's Conch Experience celebrate 22 years in Grand Bahamas

Tony Macaroni's World Famous Conch Experience in Grand Bahama, known for some of the best conch and fish dishes on the island is celebrating 22 years in Grand Bahama...

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News Article

March 30, 2012
Official: Underwater harvesting of conch hurting fishing industry

Poachers are "beating the system" through a loophole in the country's fisheries regulations which one fisheries official said is allowing them to harvest undersized catches.

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News Article

October 08, 2014
COB music students create conch salad with a melodic twist

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Who knew that conch salad could be so melodic? The music students at The College of The Bahamas and the faculty members who helped them create a new compilation of original and classic Bahamian melodies.
The result is a CD entitled Melodic Conch Salad, produced by the ensemble MUIN242, which will be launched on Friday, October 17th at 7:00 p.m. at the Bahamas National Trust, Village Road.
"The most rewarding part was hearing the final version in the studio. We could not believe what we accomplished," shares Lynden Sands, group member and second-year music major.
This is just one of the ways that demonstrates how students of The College are not only learning from the quality instruction for which the institution is known, but are using that knowledge to create and produce quality work themselves.
According to the students, the experience was fascinating.
"We could not believe what we had accomplished," Lynden recalls. "Overall, Melodic Conch Salad musically illustrates the process of making conch salad, from growing the vegetables to catching the conch to adding the perfect blend of spices."

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News Article

September 12, 2011
Roberts: Conch Beds Destroyed by Jet Skis

Jet skis operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. are driving Berry Islands fishermen farther away from profits -- with the activity depleting the natural conch bed they rely on. The situation has led those who depend on fishing - one of the biggest sources of employment in the islands - to move beyond their usual spots to feed themselves and their families.

"When I came here, the conch bed had a tremendous amount of conch," said Captain Antonio Roberts.

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News Article

September 28, 2012
40th Annual McLean's Town Conch Cracking Competition Festival announced

What does The Bahamas have that no other country in the world has? Well besides Junkanoo, it is our Conch Cracking Competition! Each year,

McLean's Town in Grand Bahama Island hosts their

Conch Cracking Contest, where people flock to the usually sleepy settlement to find out who will be crowned "Best Conch Cracker".

The one-day event  will take place on

Monday, October 12th. Click [Read more...] to find out what Conch Cracking is all about...

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