Sea cucumber stock increases

National, Normal

The National, Friday 18th November 2011

THE stock of sea cucumbers in the coastal communities is slowly recovering, according to a survey.
The improvement in stock level is a result of the National Fisheries Authority’s quick action in 2009 to impose a nationwide ban on the harvest and marketing of sea beche-de-mer, which is the by-product of sea cucumber when processed.
The closure of the beche-de-mer industry had a major impact on the lives of coastal villagers including the atolls whose income-generating activities centred on the harvest of the marine resource.
Bougainville division of primary industry fisheries officer Jinro Boisen said the results of the monitoring exercise which was completed last week was encouraging.
“We are really excited about the improvement on stock recovery. We will continue to monitor the replenishment of the stock in 2012 and if it reaches a level of sustainability by 2013, the ban could be lifted and farmers allowed to harvest again,” Boisen said.
He said the lifting of the current ban by the industry would be welcomed by sea cucumber farmers in Bougainville because before the ban, it was estima­ted that K5 million was directly earned by coastal communities alone.
“Compared to agriculture products, the return on the sale of beche-de-mer was very attractive,’’ he said.
“Before the ban, beche-de-mer was selling at K150 per kilo and we forecast that there would be a 100% increase in price when the industry opens again.”
But he said the decision to open the market again in 2013 would depend on the assessment and recommendations of fisheries officers in the country’s 14 maritime provinces, including Bougainville.
He said in Bougainville, monitoring was ongoing for stock.
“Farmers in Bougainville have been very co-operative in respecting the ban on harvesting the sea cucumbers,” Boisen said.