kristin
heinichen

photojournalist
heinichenkristin@gmail.com
740-591-0712

QUEEN CONCH

Current trends in fisheries have turned island customs
on its head. A proud people accustomed to a legacy of
conch fishing are now forced to reconsider this trade as
conch populations are threatened. While stocks are still
abundant for many fisherman, decline is clear.

Queen Conch is native to Bermuda, the Florida Keys,
the Caribbean, and the Bahamas. The conch fishery
collapsed in Bermuda during the late 1970's and it’s
illegal to take Queen Conch in the state of Florida. In the
Caribbean moratoriums are in place to prevent conch
stocks from collapsing, and the Bahamas are showing
signs of serious decline. While there's still a viable conch
fishery around the 700 islands, cays, and islets of the
Bahamas, it's feared that once a stock is found to be in
decline that it may be too far gone. However, the Bahamas
are in an interesting position as the region can learn from
it's neighboring countries and use precautions.

Willy Farrington, has been diving for conch since he
was nine years-old. Since the early 90's he's heard that
the species was in jeopardy and could disappear
altogether. And just as time and tide won't wait, Willy is
trying to make use of the bounty while it lasts.

http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchnew20159.jpg
The youngest daughter of Willy Farrington eats a pistol; a part of the Conch that aids in digestion for the sea sail but is touted for it’s aphrodisiac like qualities, Andros Island, Bahamas, December, 2015.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchmore20154.jpg
Willy Farrington, a lifelong conch fisherman, tosses conch into his boat which he harvested from the ocean floor during a six hour skindiving trip, Andros Island, Bahamas, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchwebresize2015.jpg
Willy heads his timeworn motorboat to diving spots where he suspects conch can be found, Lowe Sound, Bahamas, April, 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchmore20158.jpg
For a few bucks, Willy enlists Bahamians of all ages willing to load his harvested conch from his motorboat into a truck for final transport to Nassau, Bahamas, December, 2015.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchcrop20156.jpg
Willie removes a conch from it's shell in between his dives. His customers dictate how many pounds of conch are to be delivered in the shell and how many are to be skinned and bagged, Andros Island, Bahamas, April, 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchnew20155.jpg
A youth working for Willy moves the harvested conch from the motorboat to a pick-up truck which will then be driven a few miles north to Morgan’s Bluff on Andros Island for final transport to Nassau, Bahamas, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchnew201515.jpg
Willy flirts with his fiance and mother of two in front of their Lowe Sound home on New Year’s Day. He had a successful week of diving conch and took a day off to celebrate, January, 2016.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_conchpearl051412-2_v2.jpg
Willy's oldest daughter looks out the door of their Lowe Sound home, across the street to where he's preparing conch for transport, Andros Island, Bahamas, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchmore201511.jpg
A Lowe Sound resident brandishes a conch pearl, a painful kidney stone for the sea snail but a rare and desired find for the fisherman, Andros Island, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_conchpearlweb201209.jpg
Attendees of a weekly poker game hosted by Willy at his conch bar in Lowe Sound are vigil of those coming and going as gambling is illegal in the Bahamas, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_conchpearlcrop.jpg
Willy eats a traditional Bahamian meal of bone fish and peas and rice. The chips alongside his plate will be used later for a private poker game he hosts regularly at his conch bar in Lowe Sound. For many, the poker game will dictate how they live for the week as their winnings will be the only income they generate, Andros Island, Bahamas, 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_conchpearl042312-3.jpg
Willy spends time with his oldest daughter in the early hours at his conch bar before his friends and customers arrive, April, 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchevenmore20158.jpg
Political posters in support of The Free National Movement, FNM, a conservative political party in The Bahamas, furnish a Lowe Sound work vehicle during the 2012 Bahamian General Elections. At the time, FNM was led by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. The FNM went on to lose the by-election triggered by Ingraham´s retirement held on 15 October, 2012, and the Progressive Liberal Party, PLP, came to power.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchmore20151.jpg
A Lowe Sound resident shows support for the Progressive Liberal Party, PLP, a populist and social liberal party in the Bahamas led by current Prime Minister Perry Christie who defeated Hubert Ingraham of The Free National Movement, FNM, in the 2012 elections.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_androsconchevenmore20153.jpg
The emptied shells of sun bleached conch line the coastline of the Bahamas. In many areas these cast away shells are used as modest seawalls, Andros Island, April 2012.
http://kristinheinichen.com/files/gimgs/21_conch-webresize.jpg
Willy’s boat shares a bank with empty conch shells and crawfish traps during low tide in Lowe Sound. The weather indicates calm waters for tomorrow, Andros, Island, Bahamas, April, 2012.