NATION

Beche-de-mer On The Radar Again

  Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau says the history on the commercial harvest of beche-de-mer was one of boom and bust. Mr Koroilavesau said this indicated that when decision makers
17 Mar 2018 10:00
Beche-de-mer On  The Radar Again
Ocean Champion and Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau.

 

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau says the history on the commercial harvest of beche-de-mer was one of boom and bust.

Mr Koroilavesau said this indicated that when decision makers like themselves, failed to make hard decisions, a fishery similar to this would collapse.

Mr Koroilavesau made this statement in Parliament on Thursday in response to concerns raised by Members of this House, initiated by an email circulated by Abhindra Singh on behalf of Great North Seafood Limited on the current ban imposed on the harvest, sale and export of the marine commodity.

He said in May last year the initial closure of the beche-de-mer fishery was first announced.

Mr Koroilavesau said the decision and announcement was based not only on the scientific information available but focused on operational information that was gathered over time.

“The available stock of different species of beche-de-mer that existed within the region was alarming,’’ the minister said.

“Published reports indicate that our species are facing extinction due to commercial trade.

“Fiji is in the verge of losing two species that were once found in depth of fewer than 10 metres. These are species of “golden sandfish and blackfish”.

He said the irony was that beche-de-mer were easily accessed from the comfort of beaches.

“Prior to the announcement of the ban, our survey indicated that there has been an increase in the use of scuba tanks in the harvest of beche-de-mer.

“While we worked to try and combat the illegal use of scuba equipment or UBA, the spike in its use indicated that there were not enough species available in depth of fewer than 30 metres.

“This is an indication of how our collective resource of beche-de-mer is being over-exploited due to commercial demands.”

He said many have constantly heard that the beche-der-mer industry raked in millions of dollars every year in revenue.

While this indicates a formidable figure, Mr Koroilavesau said it was important to ask if Fijians continued to harvest to extinction or implement precautionary approaches.

“The time is now. It is time for the very few exporters that have benefited from the trade of beche-de-mer to give back, they need to invest in sustainable fisheries.”

Mr Koroilavesau reiterated that the decision made on the ban was not a result of Fiji’s commitment during the UN Oceans Conference in June or the COP 23 in November of last year.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa

Feedback:  losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj



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