SINCE the peak of sea cucumber trade in 1988 and 1997 there has been a 73 per cent decrease in export for the past 15 years.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) sea cucumber expert Watisoni Lalavanua said a study by senior research fellow with Southern Cross University Steven Purcell revealed that in 1988 Fiji exported 700 tonnes of sea cucumbers.
Mr Lalavanua said in 1977 it exported about 900 tonnes of the marine animal.
"Since then the average export for sea cucumber from 1998 to 2012 is 243 tonnes, a decrease of 73 per cent for the last 15 years from 1998 to 2012," he said.
"A recent study on value and market preferences of bêche-de-mer (the name for the processed trade form of sea cucumbers) in Hong Kong and mainland China highlighted bêche-de-mer price.
"The most expensive product was very large and nicely processed sandfish, (Dairo) in one store in Hong Kong, selling for $3474.86 per kg."
Mr Lalavanua said this was clear indications of the decrease in stocks around major supplying countries like Fiji and the Pacific as a whole.
"A joint research conducted by the Ministry of Fisheries and WCS indicated that exporters still did not adhere to the legal size limit of 7.6cm as a legal size for exporting bêche-de-mer," he said.
"Sandfish (Dairo) which is not permitted for export are being exported as evidence by the volumes being collected by local fishers, and the numbers with exporters."
Meanwhile, early last month, Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau revealed Fiji's fisheries sector would lose out on about $35 million to $40m in revenue if it didn't strengthen and enforce its bêche-de-mer management measures.
Mr Koroilavesau said in 2015, the ministry recorded $35m to $40m earnings from bêche-de-mer exports.
Source: Fiji Times Online