Endangered Species Status Review of Queen Conch, Strombus gigas (Linnaeus 1758)
This document summarizes and synthesizes biological information covering queen conch, Strombus gigas, throughout its natural distribution
This status report was conducted in response to a petition to list the queen conch (Strombus gigas) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On February 27, 2012, the NMFS received a petition from the WildEarth Guardians requesting that we list the queen conch as endangered or threatened under the ESA and designate critical habitat for the species. NMFS evaluated the petitions to determine whether the petitioners provided substantial information as required by the ESA to list a species. The petitioner also requested that critical habitat be designated for this species concurrent with listing under the ESA. The petition asserted that overfishing is the greatest threat to queen conch and is the principal cause of population declines and that the existing regulations are ineffective and unable to prevent, the unsustainable and illegal harvest of queen conch. The petition asserted that biological characteristics (e.g., slow growth, late maturation, limited mobility, occurrence in shallow waters, and tendency to aggregate) rendered the species particularly vulnerable to overharvest, and that allee effects are preventing the recovery of overexploited stocks. The petitioner also asserted degradation of shallow water nursery habitat and water pollution, specifically high concentrations of zinc and copper, reduces juvenile recruitment and causes reproductive failure. The petition addressed four of the factors identified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA as they pertain to the queen conch: (A) current or threatened habitat destruction or modification or curtailment of habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial purposes; (C) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (D) other natural or man-made factors affecting the species’ continued existence.