FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

FAO works with Jamaica to advance sea cucumber industry development


Since the April 2015 launch of a sea cucumber project, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Jamaica has continued to work with the Government of Jamaica towards capacity building in the resource assessment and management of the Jamaican sea cucumber fishery and the potential for aquaculture development.

The project is aimed at creating a sustainable management system and will specifically focus on the holothurian species of sea cucumber. FAO seeks to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable and, with this aim, provides technical expertise to the government. To facilitate the development of the sector, the Government also imposed a prohibition on sea cucumber fishing in 2015, in light of FAO’s $30-million technical support to determine the sea cucumber prospects and viability in Jamaica.

Project interventions to date have included ongoing research on the country’s capacity to assess and manage the Jamaican sea cucumber industry. There has also been a series of diving explorations to assess the varieties of sea cucumber in the Jamaican waters. Prior to these dives, three Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries staff were also sent to Mexico to learn new techniques around harvesting sea cucumbers. Later in 2016, a mission reviewed the stock assessments to date, the aquaculture potential, as well as a fisheries management plan to determine the best way forward as it relates to sea cucumber management in Jamaica.

In January 2017, a series of workshops and stakeholder sessions were hosted with divers, fishers, the Government and other entities with commercial interests to advance the sea cucumber management programme. Notably, 16 species of sea cucumbers inhabit Jamaican waters and six are deemed to be commercially important. These are currently being exploited illegally. Sea cucumber harvesting is being encouraged as one option to reduce the level of stress on the existing reef fisheries. Sea cucumbers are one of the several underutilized species; therefore, this industry has huge potential for development.