Sea cucumbers - A global review of fisheries and trade

FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 516

Sea cucumbers
A global review of fisheries and trade


Edited by

Verónica Toral-Granda
FAO Consultant
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Alessandro Lovatelli
Fishery Resources Officer (Aquaculture)
Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Rome, Italy

and

Marcelo Vasconcellos
Fishery Resources Officer
Fisheries Management and Conservation Service
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Rome, Italy


FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Rome, 2008

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ISBN 978-92-5-106079-7

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© FAO 2008

Toral-Granda, V.; Lovatelli, A.; Vasconcellos, M. (eds).
Sea cucumbers. A global review of fisheries and trade.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 516. Rome, FAO. 2008. 317 p.

Abstract

The present document reviews the population status, fishery and trade of sea cucumbers worldwide through the collation and analysis of the available information from five regions, covering known sea cucumber fishing grounds: temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere; Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa and Indian Ocean; Asia; and Western Central Pacific. In each region a case study of a “hotspot” country or fishery was conducted to highlight critical problems and opportunities for the sustainable management of sea cucumber fisheries. The hotspots are Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Seychelles, Galapagos Islands and the fishery for Cucumaria frondosa of Newfoundland in Canada.

Across the five regions, the scale of catches and the number of exploited species varies widely, the Asian and Pacific regions being those with the highest catches and species diversity. Most fisheries are multispecific, or have evolved from single-species to multispecies fisheries as the more valuable species became overexploited. There are many typologies of sea cucumber fisheries, ranging from artisanal, to semi-industrial and industrial. The bulk of the catches are exported to supply the Asian bêche-de-mer market, with China Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) the main export destination for the totality of countries reviewed. With the exception of some stocks in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, sea cucumber stocks are under intense fishing throughout the world. In Latin America and the Caribbean it appears that high valued commercial species have been depleted. In the majority of the countries reviewed in the Africa and Indian Ocean region stocks are overfished. Likewise in the Asian Pacific region the most sought-after species are largely depleted.

Despite the fact that sea cucumber fishing is not a traditional activity, a large number of coastal communities have developed a strong dependency on it as alternative source of income. Reconciling the need for conservation with the socio-economic importance that these fisheries have acquired will require effective management efforts, which are currently lacking in many places. The hotspot case studies show for instance that, despite the adoption of management plans in some countries, the lack of enforcement capacity poses considerable constraints on the effectiveness of adopted management measures, besides exacerbating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and trade.

The papers also discuss some of the factors behind the unsustainable use of sea cucumbers and the role and potential benefits of alternative management measures, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The lack of capacity to gather the basic information needed for management plans, weak enforcement, the high demand from international markets and the pressure exerted from resource-dependent communities figure high as important factors responsible for the critical status of sea cucumber fisheries worldwide. Authors concur on the need for immediate actions to stop the trend of sequential depletion of species if we are to conserve stocks biodiversity and sustain the ecological, social and economic benefits of these resources.


Contents



Preparation of this document (Download 288 kb)
Abstract
Acknowledgements
Contributors
Abbreviations and acronyms

Executive summary


Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in the (Download 909 kb)
Western Central Pacific
  Jeff Kinch, Steven Purcell, Sven Uthicke and Kim Friedman

Papua New Guinea: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in the (Download 551 kb)
Western Central Pacific
  Jeff Kinch, Steve Purcell, Sven Uthicke and Kim Friedman

Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in Asia (Download 946 kb)
  Poh-Sze Choo

The Philippines: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in Asia (Download 911 kb)
  Poh-Sze Choo

Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in Africa
and the Indian Ocean
 (Download 940 kb - 473 kb)
  Chantal Conand

Seychelles: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in Africa and (Download 401 kb)
the Indian Ocean
  Riaz Aumeeruddy and Chantal Conand

Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in (Download 558 kb )
Latin America and the Caribbean
  Verónica Toral-Granda

Galapagos Islands: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in (Download 492 kb)
Latin America and the Caribbean
  Verónica Toral-Granda

Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in temperate
areas of the Northern Hemisphere
 (Download 998 kb - 643 kb)
  Jean-François Hamel and Annie Mercier

Precautionary management of Cucumaria frondosa in (Download 739 kb)
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  Jean-François Hamel and Annie Mercier


ANNEXES (Download 939 kb)

1.  Workshop agenda
2.  List of participants
3.  Participant profile
4.  Experts group photograph