Fiji introduces sustainable management model for sea cucumber/beche de mer

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    After a five-year ban on the harvesting, trade, and consumption of beche de mer to allow populations to recover, the Fijian government are introducing a new management model for the species that sustainably supports the livelihoods of the communities that rely on this important marine resource.

    “We instituted the ban to preserve our people’s long-term food security and socioeconomic wellbeing. As our economy continues to recover from the pandemic, this new sustainable management regime will allow local communities to benefit from healthy Beche de mer stocks rather than push the population to the brink of collapse because of unregulated and exploitative harvesting,” said Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in a statement.

    The lifting of the ban on sea cucumber will be done with the following conditions:

    1. The harvesting of sea cucumber will run from 01 July to 31 August, 2022;

    2. The processing and export period will run from 01 July to 31 October, 2022;

    3. The harvesting licenses will be issued to the resource or qoliqoli owners as part of the Government’s ongoing measures to encourage the active and meaningful participation of resource owners in our sustainable management approach;

    4. The species of sea cucumber allowed for harvesting will be carefully selected to ensure we keep within the requirements of international trade. Any species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species (CITES) will be banned from harvesting;

    5. All traders who wish to be involved in this fishery will also be licensed. This will also help ensure the sustainability of the resource and strengthen monitoring;

    6. Government has also directed the formation of a Licensing Committee to comprise the Permanent Secretaries for Fisheries, Economy, Trade, Environment and the Solicitor-General to select and license the traders and exporters. The Licensing Committee will advertise an Expression of Interest by next week.

    Bainimarama said for the past 400 years, Fiji has allowed the harvesting, trade and consumption of Beche de mer while knowing very little about how to culture and breed the species.

    “To further strengthen the longer-term sustainability of this resource, we will employ scientific best practices to culture and breed sea cucumber with the aim of expanding this model of sustainable aquaculture to other high value fisheries commodities.

    This is only one step in a long journey towards a better and bluer Fijian economy,” Bainimarama said in a statement.

    SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/PACNEWS