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Sea cucumber harvesting to be strictly regulated by Fisheries ministry

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 25/06/2020

The ministry of fisheries will be strictly regulating the harvesting of sea cucumber to ensure it would not be exploited during the 3 months’ government has allowed for sea cucumber to be harvested from July 1st to September 31st.

The Ministry have outlined specific areas for harvesting cucumber in, and will ensure that only those with licenses to harvest sea cucumber will be allowed to do so, and only in the areas specified according to each license.

Mele ‘Atuekaho from the ministry says will monitor the number of sea cucumber harvested, the area specified for sea cucumber harvesting, and the size of the fishing boat used – which cannot be bigger than a 25ft vessel.

‘Atuekaho added that fishing communities must understand all of these limitations are in place to ensure the sea cucumber population in Tonga’s waters is not depleted.

She emphasized that all fisheries must comply the requirements from the ministry of processing sea cucumber and exporting license including submitting on time their applications.

However, Poasi Ngaluafe from the Ministry of Fisheries explained that types of sea cucumber such as Dragon fish (Lomu), Snake fish (Te’epupulu), Brownspotted sandfish (Finemotu’a) and sandfish (Nga’ito) shall not harvest during this period of allowing to harvest sea cucumber.

He adds that the ministry is not allowing scuba diving or hooks for harvesting sea cucumber because it will damage the marine species in Tonga’s coastal waters.

The SPC are still concerned about the standard of sea cucumber in Tonga and the ministry believes the ban on the sea cucumber harvest still needs to be upheld BUT cabinet believes that allowing of fisheries to harvest sea cucumber in a short period will create an income due to restrictions of COVID-19.

© Radio and Television Tonga News