In The Bahamas, A New Kind of Conch Farm
A new project by Florida Atlantic University aims to help restore the population of Queen Conch in Grand Bahama.
The school’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has received a $2.8 million grant from Builders Initiative to establish a new queen conch hatchery in Grand Bahama.
It’s part of a broader initiative by the Harbor Branch to replenish queen conch populations across the wider Caribbean.
The project will begin with a pilot-scale queen conch aquaculture farm led by research professor Megan Davis.
“We’re extremely grateful to Builders Initiative for their generous support of our queen conch restoration efforts,” said FAU President Stacy Volnick. “FAU Harbor Branch’s work in aquaculture is helping to meet the growing global demand for food, thanks to partners like Builders Initiative who share our belief in sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.”
The project will begin this summer with what the school calls a “mobile queen conch lab,” where scientists will grow conch from their egg stage to juveniles.
The project will be set at Coral Vita, the renowned coral farm in Grand Bahama.
“Having a hatchery operating in the community with full participation from the community will be a great way to not only increase knowledge and awareness of the life cycle of the conch, but it will also allow the opportunity to build relationships, technical skills and solutions together,” said Catherine Booker, program coordinator with the Bahamas National Trust.
More broadly, FAU is planning to set up a new 25-acre innovation hub called “Conservation Hub,” which will include an aquarium, a tropical aquaculture park, a research hub and a hospitality center.
FAU has helped establish conch farms in Puerto Rico, Curacao and Great Exuma in The Bahamas.
“Builders Initiative is thrilled to be an anchor funder of Florida Atlantic University’s innovative program to establish conch aquaculture hatchery facilities across the Caribbean,” said Peter Bryant, oceans program director at Builders Initiative. “We’re committed to accelerating restorative aquaculture solutions in The Bahamas, and this project is a cornerstone of our program, one that will restore conch populations in The Bahamas while also providing benefits to local communities.”