Community Conch: Sustainable Fishing in the Bahamas
Community Conch is a Rachel’s Network Fiscal Sponsorship Fund that launched in 2009.
While doing field work in the Bahamas for her master’s degree in marine conservation, Martha Davis experienced firsthand the alarming decline of the islands’ queen conch population, a species of edible mollusk. Her nonprofit, Community Conch, conducts conch population surveys and advocates for conservation efforts to preserve this vital species.
“With the support of the Department of Marine Resources and the Bahamas National Trust, we are using the information we collected at stakeholders meetings to reform regulations. It has been very rewarding to present our data at conferences and have scientists from the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries thank us for our work,” Martha says.
To create a viable program, Martha emphasizes the importance of flexibility and strong partnerships—and points out that one cold call rejection eventually led her to finding an expert who became the project’s lead scientist.
“Project logistics in a foreign country are challenging. Assume nothing will be as expected and try to anticipate Plan B,” she says. “We would never have been able to get it all done without the immediate assistance of Rachel’s Network, which was willing to step in on short notice as our fiscal sponsor.”
In 2012, Community Conch successfully assessed three fishing areas in the Bahamas, prompting the Department of Marine Resources to support a national conch awareness campaign and propose new ways to protect the queen conch population.
The Rachel’s Network Fiscal Sponsorship Fund empowers members to develop entrepreneurial programs into independent nonprofits. Through it, members may initiate a project through the Network’s established 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure without having to assume the administrative responsibilities of establishing a new legal entity. This process affords members the freedom to manage their projects and nurture their budding organizations’ growth.