By GYNNIE KERO
The lucrative beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) industry can be worth more than K300 million if the country has proper control and management of exports, according to PNG beche-de-mer Exporters’ Association.
Interim president Harry Landu, when providing an oversight on the industry, said a number of issues including piracy affected this important marine resource.
“Piracy at sea is a result of an uncontrolled management of this most important fishery,” he said.
“National Fisheries Authority, in deliberating on granting exporter licences, must take into consideration possible situations.
“The beche-de-mer industry is at great risk of not surviving if the NFA does not urgently review its practices, especially conditions for granting of exporters licences.”
Landu said when there were too many exporters, most of whom were “fly-by-night operators” with no care about laws, this led to piracy.
“Reputable and established companies care too much about our reputation to support such activities,” he said.
“Pirates would not conduct such illegal activities if there are no markets for these stolen products.
“The rogue companies also do deal with pirates to bring products to them.
“NFA has to take control and seriously review its current management plan, and national security must be the foremost consideration.
“It (beche-de-mer industry) is worth over K300 million if processed well.
“Production is well over 700-tonnes and most of it is badly done.
“It can be worth more if all things are done right: Proper training on processing, good-quality products, control and management of exports so that proper and correct value of beche-de-mer are declared on export invoices, and funds are remitted back into PNG.
“As long as we have too many licences issued, we will never be able to achieve the true value and ensure that receipts from this valuable resource are used to help develop our economy.”
Average prices of beche-de-mer ranges from K400 per kg to K10 per kg depending on the species.
The country mainly exports to the Chinese markets.
By GYNNIE KERO