Tongan government will ban sea cucumber harvesting amid claims expert advice ignored

The Tongan government will ban harvesting and processing sea cucumbers for three to five years.

Tonga’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Semisi Fakahau, has  told Parliament a bill will be submitted to the House soon to alter the current law governing the harvesting of sea cucumbers.

Hon. Fakahau’s comments come after the previous government was charged with ignoring expert advice that the sea cucumber population was declining alarmingly.

The former government was also accused of being pressured by local Asian sea cucumber exporters into repeatedly lifting bans on harvesting beche-de-mer.

Most beche-de-mer from the Pacific is exported to Hong Kong and then goes to mainland China.

Hon. Fakahau said all sea cucumber business operators currently registered with the ministry would have their registration cancelled.

Hon. Fakahau was one of the leading critics of the former Tongan government’s relaxation of the ban on sea cucumber fishing.

He told Parliament the law must be altered to give the right of harvesting, farming and processing sea cucumber to people who lived by the beach in the area where sea cucumbers were harvested.

These areas would be labelled as marine protected areas.

This meant people who were not from those areas would not be allowed to farm sea cucumbers there.

They could only harvest sea cucumbers outside these protected areas.

The government would help residents process and marketing of the beche-de-mer, the minister said.

According to a report by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, The Status of Tonga’s Sea Cucumber Fishery, the beche-de-mer plays a significant role in the kingdom’s economy.

The report said 360 tonnes of beche-de-mer were exported in 2009 and 318 tonnes in 2010. The estimated value to fishers and processors from the two seasons was about US$7 million (TPS$13 million) per season.

A separate report by the international Food and Agriculture Organisation says that in many parts of the Pacific, high value species have been depleted and the viability of many sea cucumber fisheries is a matter for concern.

You can download both these reports using the links  below.

In the run-up to the 2014 election, the previous Tongan government announced it would ban the harvesting of sea cucumbers for five years.

Radio New Zealand International quoted the then Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Sangster Saulala, as saying in October that the Government would also conduct a scientific survey to review the health of the sea cucumber fisheries.

The main points

  • The Tongan government will ban harvesting and processing sea cucumbers for three to five years, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Semisi Fakahau.
  • Fakahau’s comments come after the previous government was charged with ignoring expert advice that the sea cucumber population was declining alarmingly.
  • The former government was also accused of being pressured by local Asian sea cumber exporters into repeatedly lifting bans on harvesting beche-de-mer.
  • Fakahaui said all sea cucumber business operators currently registered with the ministry would have their registration cancelled.

For more information

The Status of Tonga’s Sea Cucumber Fishery (Secretariat of the Pacific Community)

Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in the Western Central Pacific (Food and Agriculture Organisation)

Tonga to suspend harvesting of sea cucumber (RNZI)

1 COMMENT

  1. ‘E ta’ofi faka’aufuli ‘e he Pule’anga Tongá hano toe toutaiʻi mo ngaohi ʻo e mokohunú ʻi ha taʻu ʻe tolu ki he nima.

    Ko hono fakahā ʻeni ki he Fale Alea ʻo Tongá ʻe he Minisitā ki he Ngoué, Toutaí mo e Vaotātaá ʻo pehē ʻe vavé ni pe hano fakahū hake ki he Falé ha lao fakaangaanga ke liliu ʻa e lao lolotonga ʻokú ne puleʻi ʻa hono fāngotaʻi ʻo e mokohunú.

    Ko hono tuku mai ʻeni e fakamatala ʻa e minisitaá, ʻOnapolo Sēmisi Fakahaú hili ia hono tukuakiʻi e puleʻanga ki muʻá ki heʻenau fakaliʻeliʻaki e faleʻi ʻa e kau mataotao he toutaí kau ki he fuʻu holo lahi e tokolahi ʻo e mokohunú.

    Naʻe toe tukuakiʻi foki ʻa e puleʻanga ki muʻá ki hono teke ʻe he kau pisinisi ʻEsia ʻi Tonga ʻoku nau hū atu ko ia ki tuʻapuleʻanga ʻo e mokohunú ke toutou toʻo ʻa e lao fakataputapui koi a ʻe he Puleʻangá hono fāngotaʻi ʻo e mokohunú kae ʻatā ia ke nau fāngotaʻi e meʻatahí ni.

    Ko e lahi taha ʻo e mokohunu mei he Pasifikí ʻoku hu ia ki Hong Kong ʻo toki fou ai ki Siaina.

    Pehē foki ʻe Fakahau ko e kau fakalele pisinisi kotoa pe ʻoku lolotonga lēsisita mo e potungāué ki hono toutaiʻi ʻo e mokohunú ʻe kaniseli kotoa kinautolu ka maau mai e lao ko ʻení.

    Naʻe kau foki ʻa Fakahau ia ʻi he kau fakaanga lahi ki he puleʻanga Tonga ki muʻá ʻi hono fakangalokuloku ko ia e lao ke tapui hono fāngotaʻi ʻo e mokohunú.

    Ne ne fakahā foki ki he Fale Aleá kuopau ke liliu ʻa e laó ke ne ʻoange ʻa e totonu ki hono toutaiʻi, faamaʻi mo ngaohi ʻo e mokohunú ki he kakai ko ē ʻoku nau nofo takai ʻi he matātahi ʻi he kongatahi ʻoku toutaiʻi ai ʻa e mokohunú.

    ʻE fakaʻilongaʻi makehe leva ʻa e ʼēlia tahi ko ʻení ko ha konga kuo maluʻi makehe.

    ʻE ʻuhinga ia ko e kakai ko ē ʻoku ʻikai ke nau nofo he feituʻú ʻe ʻikai ngofua ke nau fāngotaʻi e mokohunu he konga tahi ko iá.

    Ka ʻe lava ke nau fāngotaʻi pe ʻa e mokohunu ʻi he feituʻu tahi ʻi tuʻa he konga tahi ko ʻeni ʻe fakaʻilongaʻi kuo maluʻi makehé.

    ‘E tokoni leva ʻa e puleʻangá ki he kakai ʻo e potu tahí ni ki hono ngaahi mo fakamāketiʻi ʻo e mokohunú, ko e meʻa ia ʻa e minisitaá.

    Fakatatau ki he līpooti ʻa e Vaʻa Sekelitali ki he Nofo-ʻa-Kāinga ʻo e Pasifikí ne ui pe ko e Tuʻunga Kuo ʻI ai Hono Toutaiʻi ʻo e Mokohunú ʻi Tongá ne ʻasi ai ʻa e mahuʻinga lahi ʻo e mokohunú ki he ʻekonōmika ʻa e puleʻanga fakatuʻí.

    Ne pehē ʻe he līpōtí ko e toni mokohunu ʻe 360 ne hū atu ki tuʻapuleʻanga ʻi he 2009 pea toni ʻe 318 ʻi he 2010.

    Ko e paʻanga ko ē ne fakafuofua ne maʻu ʻe he kau toutaí mo kinautolu ne nau ngaohí ʻi he foʻi toʻu mokohunu ʻe ua ko ʻení ko e paʻanga ʻe $13 miliona.

    ʻI ha toe lipooti kehe ʻe taha ʻa e Kautaha Meʻatokoni mo Ngoue Fakavahaʻapuleʻangá ne pehē ai ʻoku lahi e ngaahi fonua ʻi he Pasifikí kuo fakaʻau ʻosi e ngaahi kalasi mahuʻinga taha ia ko ē ʻo e mokohunú pea ko e tuʻunga ko ē ke nau toe lava ai ke fanafanau honau tokolahi ʻoku fai e hohaʻa lahi ki ai.

    ʻI he teu ko ia ki he fili Fale Alea ʻo e taʻu 2014 ne fakahā ai ʻe he Letiō Fakavahaʻapuleʻanga ʻa Nuʻu Sila ní ne pehē ʻe he Ministā Ngoue ki muʻá Sangster Saulala ʻi he māhina ʻOkatopá ʻe fakahoko ʻe he puleʻangá ha savea ke toe vakaiʻiʻaki e moʻui ʻa e mokohunú.

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