MADMF Conch Stock Assess Used by Wilcox Thesis Questioned

After a close review of three separate research papers on Channeled Conch in MA waters, conducted over two years, it has been determined by former SMAST faculty that the methods to determine conch are overfished are not reliable and could not conclusively be used to make such a scientific determination.

According to the official stock assessment survey document “only 2 conch per one million were captured in the survey” using a fish net with three inch cookies in the bottom rope.

A fishnet is the least reliable device forgathering a statistical sampling of conch; with the 3-inch cookie supported bottom rope would be apt to easily skip over any conch on the ocean bottom surface. No dredges were used so there was no method for capturing any statistically reliable numbers of conch that typically in daytime are buried.

The sample sites regularly used by the MA division trawl survey were selected for capturing in shore fish species—not conch, said one professor.

Despite the overflow of conch traps in the historical conch grounds of sublegal size, Dan McKiernan seemed unable to account for the large volume spread over wide areas of such sub-legal sized animals, which his office has declared “overfished”.

McKiernan was unable to return numerous telephone calls, e mails, and two formal mailed written letters. Fishery population scientists say that a reliable stock assessment must be performed prior to a declaration that a species is overfished.