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Ban on sea cucumber harvest to be lifted from July to September

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/06/2020

The ban on harvesting of sea cucumber will now be lifted between July 1st to September 31st, and will also allow for the export of sea cucumber abroad.

The ministry of Fisheries confirmed these dates today after the Prime Minister had made the first announcement in Parliament in previous weeks.

The aim of the ban being lifted is to allow fishing communities, particularly those in the Ha’apai Group, to try and create an income from the harvesting and selling of sea cucumber, after COVID-19 restrictions affected their regular source of income.

Poasi Ngaluafe from the Ministry says all areas of Tonga’s waters are open for the harvesting of sea cucumber from the two Niua’s to Tongatapu and ‘Eua, and the sea cucumber will also be made available for export.

The ban on sea cucumber harvesting has been in place since 2013 and a combined SPC and ministry survey carried out in 2016-2019 discovered the very low levels of sea cucumber population in Tonga’s waters, not only in the number but in the size of the sea cucumber, as there were not enough mature sea cucumbers to harvest to sustain commercial purposes.

During this 3-month window, Ngaluafe says they expect that 20-30 percent of the current total sea cucumber population will be harvested during this period.

© Radio and Television Tonga News