Sea cucumber stock under the microscope


14-September-2018

The workshop in progress

Research has shown that sea cucumber in Seychelles is on the decrease.

This came out through a workshop to present the findings of a project on the species organised by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).

The one-day workshop, held on Wednesday at the International Conference Centre (ICCS), was attended by skippers, fishermen, divers, boat owners, processing operators and other key stakeholders.

Apart from presenting the findings of the SEACUSEY project, the other aim of the workshop was to also get suggestions for future research and future fishing of sea cucumber for 2018-2019.

The research to ensure the sustainability of the economic sector related to sea cucumber resources through adaptive co-management was carried out on the Mahé plateau and Amirantes region during the past eighteen months.

The specific aim of the SEACUSEY project, carried out by the SFA in collaboration with the sea cucumber fishermen, operators and also with the participation of French research partners, L’Universite de La Reunion, L’Institut de Recherche  pour le Developpement, France, was to define and implement operational management measures that are adapted to the diversity, genetic structure, abundance, distribution and evolution of stocks of the three main commercial species found in Seychelles waters - White Teat fish (kokosye blan), Prickly Red fish (sanpye) and White Flower Teat fish (pentard) which is one of the most commonly found in abundance and mostly fished.

A fourth specie, the Black Teat fish (kokosye nwanr) has been banned from harvesting for the time being in Seychelles as the stock has seen a significant decrease throughout the years. Since the 1990s, most sea cucumber stocks have been over-exploited worldwide and are in sharp decline, something which has prompted local authorities to take stock of the sustainability of this fishery here.

The research showed that there is a single stock per species throughout Seychelles.

According to the deputy chief executive of SFA, Calvin Gerry, to help in maintaining the sustainability of the stock, a set limit on the number of sea cucumbers allowed to be harvested from the three main commercial species was introduced this year, along with a reduction in the opening season of the fishing period.

So as of January 2018, the total allowable catch stands at 375,000 units. Flower Teat fish’s quota is 281,250 units, White Teat fish 56,250 units and Prickly Red fish 37,500 units. This will be divided among the 24 local licensed fishing boats.  The opening season starts from October and ends in May as compared to in the past which was from October to June. The total allowable catch will be reviewed after three years or after three consecutive opening seasons.

Apart from Mr Gerry, other facilitators of the workshop included SFA’s project officer Ameer Ebrahim, project coordinator Marc Leopold and head of research Rodney Govinden.

Most stakeholders engaged in sea cucumber harvesting agreed with maintaining control of the stocks but argued that more research needs to be done to determine the real stock situation as they believe the eighteen months are not enough.  

During the workshop it was agreed that research for the sustainability of the stocks is an ongoing process.

The research findings and proposals from Wednesday’s workshop were expected to be put forward to the Fishing Management Advisory Committee yesterday to determine quota allocations and period of harvest for sea cucumber harvest for next month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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