Reproductive cycle of Strombus gigas Linnaeus 1758 (Caenogastropoda: Strombidae) from Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia
The reproductive cycle of the Queen Conch, S. gigas, in the Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia, was estimated during a 1-year period (February 2003– January 2004) from monthly observations on histological sections of gonads collected from sexually mature individuals. The resting, gametogenic, mature, and post-spawning stages were present almost all year long, while spawners (or “gamete producers” as S. gigas does not spawn into the water but copulates) appeared only twice, from March to April (6% males and 20% females) and in September (6% males, 43% females). The results of our histological analyses are congruent with those of previous works on S. gigas in San Andres Archipelago based only in mating and egg-laying behaviors, and in the presence of egg-masses as proxies for spawning. The current fishing season of Queen Conch in San Andres Archipelago extends from November 1 to May 31, according to Resolution No. 179 of May 5, 1995, and overlaps with the first reproductive event of this species. As harvesting egg-laying females during March–April could place the recovery of the population at risk, we suggest two possible scenarios to modify the current fishing regulation: a) reducing the fishing season from November 1 to March 1, and b) opening two fishing seasons per year, one from November 1 to March 1 and the other from June 1 to July 31. The success of any of these management options can only be evaluated by implementing a monitoring plan in San Andres Archipelago. This simple procedure will help protect this species, improve its sustainability through time, and guarantee the availability of the resource to local fishermen.