It Is Officially The 2021 Conch Season in Belize! Here’s How — And Where — To Enjoy It

by Carolee Chanona

What’s all the hype about conch season in Belize? For those of you wondering, Conch is a tropical marine mollusk, and it is delicious. As one of the most significant sources of revenue in the fishing industry, conch is a staple across Belize—absolutely irresistible in dishes like ceviche, fritters, curry, and soups. This seafood generates millions of dollars for Belize, and the season usually runs for its slate or until the conch quota set for that period has been met—whichever comes first. This year, the 2021-2022 Queen Conch season is slated to run from October 1, 2021 until June 30, 2022.

Fresh conch off the shores of Coral Caye. Image courtesy Coppola Hideaways

Although a tip for ordering in Belize: conch is pronounced with a hard K—CONK—not as it appears. Most people describe conch as an uber-fresh parallel to calamari, with a slightly sweet and chewy texture. So if you’re looking for ways to savor conch during its open season in Belize, here are the best ways to eat it!

Conch Fritters

Conch fritters are bite-sized pieces of conch meat deep-fried in the batter for crispy little pockets of joy. My personal favorite? A (Belikin) beer batter base seasoned with fresh habanero pepper, sea salt, cilantro, plus diced peppers and onions. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few “out-of-season” mangos that overlap with conch fritters for an out-of-this-world companion—either added directly into the batter before frying or for a killer dipping sauce. Try one of our favorite from Lily’s Treasure Chest in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

Conch Ceviche

conch ceviche belize open season

A mixed ceviche of both conch and shrimp, thanks to Pineapple’s at Ramon’s Village Resort.

You don’t have to look far in the Caribbean to find ceviche, unsurprising in a region home to some of the best seafood on the planet. Tenderized and cooked by freshly-squeezed limes, chunks of fresh conch meet a mix of vegetable companions unique to each chef’s hands. Ceviche instantly transports you beachside with its beautiful fresh citrus vibes when combined with lime, habanero pepper, and fragrant cilantro.

Find our recipe from The Flavors of Belize Cookbook here

Conch Soup

conch belize open season 2020

Conch Soup by Hot Mama’s Belize

For most Belizeans the opening of the season signals much-desired dishes, especially conch soup. Similar to seafood chowder, a Belizean conch soup instead use roux, fragranced by cold-pressed local coconut oil, before thickening with coconut milk. The soup is hearty, filled with carrots, ground root vegetables, and other local vegetables.

Try the traditional Conch Ceviche or Conch Ceviche dressed simply at Lily’s Treasure Chest in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

In a fast-paced world, the chef and restaurateur would normally be irate to not have their produce on a consistent basis. This, however, is not the case in Belize. While catch-of-the-day is a pleasant surprise in Belize, the open conch season is long anticipated. As of October 1, the 2021-2022 Queen Conch open season is slated to run until June 30, 2021.  

Belize’s regulations say:

1. Shell length should exceed 7 inches;
2. Market Clean and fillet weight should exceed 3 and 2.75 ounces respectively;
3. No person or establishment shall buy, sell or have in possession diced conch meat other than market clean conch.

Report any illegal activities to 501- 224-4552, Crime Stoppers at 0-800-922-TIPS(8477) or to fisheries_department@fisheries.gov.bz.

Header image of fresh conch via Dasha Shivers/Ray Caye Island Resort

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