Pêche, Aquaculture et Ecosystèmes Marins

The sea cucumber fishery was closed in 2008 for five years, and monitoring activities will be undertaken over the next 12 months to assess the status of resources in the country and to develop a fishery management plan.


Assessment and training

The Maskelyne Archipelago is a good location for such training, with its diverse marine systems and a resulting diversity in sea cucumber species, good community experience with the fishery and availability of data from a previous study by SPC. The site, recommended by the Vanuatu Fisheries Department, lies along the main sea transport link between Port Vila and Luganville, which allows better access. From 30 May to 17 June, the resource assessment training, led by SPC Fisheries Scientist (Invertebrates) Kalo Pakoa, covered the whole archipelago, including all the islands and the adjacent mainland. As part of the training, participants carried out a survey of sea cucumber resources in the islands. Eight participants took part in the training, including local fisheries officers, an environmental officer, an officer from the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and two participants from the community.


None of the trainees had received any dedicated training on sea cucumber resources, so the training was very useful to them. During the two weeks of field work, they applied their newly acquired knowledge and ability to correctly identify commercial species through the different invertebrate sampling methodologies they were introduced to, increased their understanding of the different habitats of sea cucumbers, practiced using global positioning systems to log station position and learned how to better plan field resource assessments. Input from the two community trainees was very beneficial in the training, especially their local knowledge on habitat and aggregation of species.


Resource information and community support

As a second step, trainees were taken through the data resulting from their survey and the production of summary results for presentation to the communities. The presentation of the early results was well received by the community leaders. In particular, the survey indicated recovery of golden sandfish (Holothuria lessoni), a species fishers had not seen for many years. These data are important for this species, whose population size in that area is not well documented. Preliminary look at the sandfish (H. scabra) population indicated that the species is slowly recovering from a decline due to past fishing pressure, but that the current protection may not provide sufficient time for a full recovery. Although results are only preliminary, community leaders were glad to learn of the status the sandfish species, which are their most important resource.


In response to the new information, the chiefs proposed that the current ban be extended to allow the resources to fully recover and advised the government to assist them to take stronger control of the fishery to ensure future harvest does not again deplete the resources to very low levels. They expressed their interest in receiving training on developing the quality of their products and in seeing community members participate in the business of beche-de-mer. The chiefs went on to voice their concern regarding the declining status of the trochus fishery and asked the Fisheries Department to take action to close the fishery as it is no longer profitable for them. They explained that there are opportunities for income in copra, kava, fish and root crops, and that therefore closing the trochus and/or sea cucumber fisheries would have no major impact on their income.


After attending the meeting, the Directors of the Fisheries Department (Moses Amos) and the Environment Department (Trinison Tari) were happy with the results, which, although preliminary, provide a good indication of resource status and set the pace for future assessments. The suggestions put forward by the community will be of great value in the development of the sea cucumber fishery management plan.







Trainees Paul Tua, Kassy Nagof and Vatu Molisa holding elephant trunkfish for the first time






Trainees from left Jason Raubani, Jayven Ham, Kassy Nagof, Paul Tua, John Laggette, Vatu Molisa and George Amos


Top left picture: Jayven Ham holding a Golden sandfish specimen




This work has been made possible with funding from the SciCOFish (Scientific Support for the Management of Coastal and Oceanic Fisheries in the Pacific Islands Region) project.


For more information, please contact Kalo Pakoa, SPC Fisheries Scientist (Invertebrates).


Mise à jour le Vendredi, 30 Novembre 2012 09:39