By GYNNIE KERO
National Fisheries Authority (NFA) will be working around the clock to ensure stringent measures are in place to ensure a sustainable beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) industry before the harvest season opens next year.
According to the authority’s managing director John Kasu earlier, there were a number of areas of concern NFA was aware of.
These included restricting exporters and setting benchmark prices for different species.
Kasu said remittance was also one of the concerns because beche-de-mer was going out but funds were not coming back into the country.
The PNG beche-de-mer exporters’ association this week highlighted the need for proper control and management of exports.
The association’s interim president, Harry Landu, said the beche-de-mer industry could be worth more than K300 million
“The industry is at great risk of not surviving if the NFA does not urgently review its practices, especially conditions for granting of exporters’ licences,” he said.
“We have licensed too many exporters, most of whom are fly-by-night operators who do not care about our laws and our people and will resort to any means to obtain products.”
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Alotau MP Charles Abel had also asked NFA to control the number of exporters of beche- de- mer.
Kasu had said: “We (NFA) need to work with relevant government entities – PNG Customs, Immigrations, navy or PNG Defence Force.
“What is going to happen after this season (which ended last month) is that we (NFA) will review the whole thing and go back to the old management plan under which NFA controls all applications.
“The NFA confirmed that too many beche-de-mer export licences were given out this year and hinted at controlling this next season.
About 500,000 people from coastal and island communities are involved in this enterprise.
Kasu said the beche-de-mer was mainly exported to Hong Kong and Singapore.
“Beche-de-mer is exported mostly to the Hong Kong market,” he said. Singapore is the other.
“For the Chinese market we cannot enter directly.
“There are some certification process that we are undertaking.
“There are some trade agreements that are being prepared by Commerce and Industry and we hope they will be signed during Apec.
“We are working on certification to enter the Chinese market.”
Average price for beche-de-mer ranges from K400 per kilogram to K10/kg depending on the species.
Some of the higher species include sandfish, white teat fish and black teat fish.
By GYNNIE KERO