One of Cayman’s favourite delicacies returns to menus and kitchens with the start of conch and whelk season, November 1 to April 30.
Conch is a traditional Cayman delicacy and an enduring feature of Caymanian culture. Throughout the season, conch and whelk may be legally taken from coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea within certain legal limits.
Read on to discover how to legally collect conch and whelk, and for a delicious recipe, courtesy of Catch Restaurant & Lounge.
Legal limits for conch
During open season, the limit for possessing conch is five per person or 10 per boat each day. No one may take, or permit another person to take, purchase, receive, offer for sale, or possess, more than five conchs from Cayman’s waters.
Also, know your conch species, as only queen conch may be taken. The DoE prefers that residents do not take juvenile conch so that these can grow to maturity and reproduce.
Legal limits for whelk
No person may possess or purchase more than two-and-a-half gallons in the shell or two-and-a-half pounds of processed whelks per day.
Similar animals one must avoid taking are chitons, periwinkles, and bleeding teeth, as well as echinoderms, a group that includes starfish, sea eggs, urchins, sea cucumbers, and sand dollars.
Be sure to note that lobster season does not commence until December 1. Please do not take any lobsters you may come across, as this will lead to arrest and prosecution.
Also, avoid purchasing from those who take, purchase, or possess more than the law allows. If you become aware of or suspect poaching activity or illegal purchasing, you are urged to call 911 or to reach out to DoE enforcement officers on Grand Cayman (916-4271), on Cayman Brac (911) or on Little Cayman (925-0185).
“We encourage the public to be careful, pay attention to safety, and to respect the catch limits and the rules for our marine protected areas this season,” minister for environment, Dwayne Seymour, said.
For more information, visit www.doe.ky.
Now that you know the rule, here’s a tasty conch recipe so as you can enjoy this Cayman delicacy at home!
(Quantities will serve two)
Conch – 1/3 pound, thinly sliced
Pickled onions – ¼ cup (2oz)
Bell peppers – ¼ cup (2oz)
Pickled jicama – ¼ cup (2oz)
Orange segments – ¼ cup (2oz)
Lime juice – ¼ cup (2oz)
Sour orange juice – 1/8 cup (1oz)
Rice vinegar – ¼ cup (2oz)
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Pepper – 1 Pinch
In a non-reactive, stainless steel bowl, place the thinly sliced conch, pickled onions, bell peppers, pickled jicama, and orange segments.
Pour the lime juice and sour orange juice over the ingredients, then add the rice vinegar.
Season with salt and pepper, then toss.
Taste and re-season if necessary, adding a little bit of sugar to reduce tartness.
Garnish with fresh scallion
Serve immediately in an ice-cold bowl and enjoy with one of Cayman’s spectacular local brews, or a chilled glass of wine.