Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Mao Zeming, today announced the decision to lift the ban on the harvest of beche-de-mer or sea cucumber, after a six-year ban, will be effective as of January 1, 2017.
A moratorium on the harvest was imposed in 2009 due to overfishing, which resulted on the stock and species depleting rapidly.
The National Fisheries Authority Board made the decision to lift the ban after satisfactory results from several surveys, which indicated that the stock has recovered sufficiently.
“The results indicate that the population of sea cucumber has shown some positive recovery, across all habitats and at species level, over the six-year period.
“While that is good news, I should point out that full recovery has not been achieved yet,” Minister Zeming said.
A new management plan approved by the board will ensure beche-de-mer is harvested under strict conditions to protect fishery and the ecosystem.
Minister Zeming also pointed out, while the moratorium is being lifted overall, designated closed season is October-March every calendar year. This will be maintained because it’s the peak spawning period for tropical species of sea cucumber.
Trials will be conducted in Milne Bay Province in December 2017.
“The NFA will try out the opening of the fishery under the new management plan utilizing Milne Bay province as a test case. This is basically to try out processes and systems under the new plan. We want to ensure strict monitoring and effective data systems are implemented well,” he said.
“As a government, we are satisfied that the new management plan is the best way forward that protects fishery and its ecosystem, while ensuring the coastal communities that depend on it for survival continue to benefit.”
NFA will publish and carry out awareness on the new management plan, licensing criteria and requirements for participating in the beche-de-mer fishery.
Milne Bay, Manus, New Ireland, West New Britain, East New Britain, Western, Central, Madang, East Sepik, Morobe and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are involved in the fishery.
They collectively produce 340 metric tonnes of beche-de-mer annually.
Milne Bay tops the NFA records with 118.
The records show 33 species of sea cucumber are harvested in the provinces.