Sea cucumbers A global review of ﬁsheries and trade
789251 060797 TC/M/I0375E/1/10.08/2000
Sea cucumbers − A global review of ﬁsheries and trade
This paper reviews the worldwide population status, ﬁshery and trade of sea cucumbers through the collection and analysis of the available information from ﬁve regions, covering known sea cucumber ﬁshing grounds: temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere; Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa and the Indian Ocean; Asia; and the Western Central Paciﬁc. In each region a case study of a “hotspot” country or ﬁshery is presented to highlight critical problems and opportunities for the sustainable management of sea cucumber ﬁsheries. The hotspots are Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Seychelles, the Galapagos Islands and the ﬁshery for Cucumaria frondosa of Newfoundland in Canada. Together they provide a comprehensive and up-to-date evaluation of the global status of sea cucumber populations, ﬁsheries, trade and management, constituting an important information source for researchers, managers, policy-makers and regional/international organizations interested in sea cucumber conservation and exploitation.
FAO FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE TECHNICAL PAPER
Cover image: Line drawings of selected sea cucumber species. Drawings from the FAO Species Identiﬁcation and Data Programme (SIDP). Montage created by Alessandro Lovatelli and José Luis Castilla Civit.
Sea cucumbers A global review of fisheries and trade
FAO FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE TECHNICAL PAPER
Edited by Verónica Toral-Granda FAO Consultant Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos Islands, Ecuador Alessandro Lovatelli Fishery Resources Officer (Aquaculture) Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Rome, Italy and Marcelo Vasconcellos Fishery Resources Officer Fisheries Management and Conservation Service FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Rome, Italy
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS Rome, 2008
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. The views expressed in this information product are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FAO. ISBN 978-92-5-106079-7 All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to: Chief Electronic Publishing Policy and Support Branch Communication Division FAO Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy or by e-mail to: [email protected]
© FAO 2008
Preparation of this document Prompted by concerns about the status of sea cucumbers stocks worldwide, because of the demand in international markets for bêche-de-mer, different initiatives have been implemented in recent years aimed at improving the understanding of these resources and fisheries, as well as to provide technical guidance for their conservation and sustainable exploitation. Two international meetings were held to review the situation of fisheries and to discuss management measures. The FAO Technical Workshop on Advances in Sea Cucumber Aquaculture and Management (ASCAM) was held in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, in 2003. The CITES Technical Workshop on Conservation of Sea Cucumbers in the Families Holothuridae and Stichopodidae was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2004. Building on the results of these meetings, both FAO Members and CITES Parties concurred on the urgent need to improve capacity of countries to manage sea cucumber fisheries through the provision of scientific information and management tools. With this in mind, FAO has been implementing a Japanese-funded project on “CITES and commercially-exploited species, including the evaluation of listing proposals” which aims, among other things, to collate and disseminate information on the global status of commercially exploited sea cucumber stocks and to assist fishing nations in the conservation and sustainable exploitation of these benthic marine organisms. The main goal of the project is to develop technical guidelines to assist fisheries managers in deciding regulations and processes for the better management, conservation and sustainable exploitation of their sea cucumber resources. In support of the development of Technical Guidelines, regional reviews and hotspot analyses were commissioned to leading experts in sea cucumber fisheries and used as background documents in an FAO Technical Workshop on “Sustainable use and management of sea cucumber fisheries” held in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, from 19 to 23 November 2007. This publication collects all the regional reviews and hotspot analysis prepared for the project and presented at the workshop. Together they provide a comprehensive and upto-date evaluation of the global status of sea cucumber populations, fisheries, trade and management, constituting an important information source for researchers, managers, policy-makers and regional/international organizations interested on sea cucumber conservation and exploitation. To facilitate the reading of this document and to accurately distinguish China from China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the comma in the official name of the China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been intentionally omitted.
Abstract The present document reviews the population status, fishery and trade of sea cucumbers worldwide through the collation and analysis of the available information from five regions, covering known sea cucumber fishing grounds: temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere; Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa and Indian Ocean; Asia; and Western Central Pacific. In each region a case study of a “hotspot” country or fishery was conducted to highlight critical problems and opportunities for the sustainable management of sea cucumber fisheries. The hotspots are Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Seychelles, Galapagos Islands and the fishery for Cucumaria frondosa of Newfoundland in Canada. Across the five regions, the scale of catches and the number of exploited species varies widely, the Asian and Pacific regions being those with the highest catches and species diversity. Most fisheries are multispecific, or have evolved from single-species to multispecies fisheries as the more valuable species became overexploited. There are many typologies of sea cucumber fisheries, ranging from artisanal, to semi-industrial and industrial. The bulk of the catches are exported to supply the Asian bêche-de-mer market, with China Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) the main export destination for the totality of countries reviewed. With the exception of some stocks in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, sea cucumber stocks are under intense fishing throughout the world. In Latin America and the Caribbean it appears that high valued commercial species have been depleted. In the majority of the countries reviewed in the Africa and Indian Ocean region stocks are overfished. Likewise in the Asian Pacific region the most sought-after species are largely depleted. Despite the fact that sea cucumber fishing is not a traditional activity, a large number of coastal communities have developed a strong dependency on it as alternative source of income. Reconciling the need for conservation with the socio-economic importance that these fisheries have acquired will require effective management efforts, which are currently lacking in many places. The hotspot case studies show for instance that, despite the adoption of management plans in some countries, the lack of enforcement capacity poses considerable constraints on the effectiveness of adopted management measures, besides exacerbating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and trade. The papers also discuss some of the factors behind the unsustainable use of sea cucumbers and the role and potential benefits of alternative management measures, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The lack of capacity to gather the basic information needed for management plans, weak enforcement, the high demand from international markets and the pressure exerted from resource-dependent communities figure high as important factors responsible for the critical status of sea cucumber fisheries worldwide. Authors concur on the need for immediate actions to stop the trend of sequential depletion of species if we are to conserve stocks biodiversity and sustain the ecological, social and economic benefits of these resources.
Toral-Granda, V.; Lovatelli, A.; Vasconcellos, M. (eds). Sea cucumbers. A global review of fisheries and trade. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 516. Rome, FAO. 2008. 317p.
Contents Preparation of this document Abstract Acknowledgements Contributors Abbreviations and acronyms
iii iv vii viii ix
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in the Western Central Pacific
Jeff Kinch, Steven Purcell, Sven Uthicke and Kim Friedman
Papua New Guinea: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in the Western Central Pacific
Jeff Kinch, Steve Purcell, Sven Uthicke and Kim Friedman
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in Asia
The Philippines: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in Asia
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in Africa and the Indian Ocean
Seychelles: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in Africa and the Indian Ocean
Riaz Aumeeruddy and Chantal Conand
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in Latin America and the Caribbean
Galapagos Islands: a hotspot of sea cucumber fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere
Jean-François Hamel and Annie Mercier
Precautionary management of Cucumaria frondosa in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Jean-François Hamel and Annie Mercier
ANNEXES 1. 2. 3. 4.
Workshop agenda List of participants Participant profiles Experts group photograph
307 309 311 317
Numerous individuals contributed to the successful organization and implementation of the sea cucumber workshop in the Galapagos Islands, which resulted in the preparation of draft technical guidelines for managing sea cucumber fisheries and the compilation of the present global review. All of them are thanked for their efforts and contributions during the preparatory phases and at the workshop itself. Special thanks are due to the Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos, for hosting the workshop and for providing excellent logistical support. Much appreciation goes to Verónica Toral-Granda and Tom Poulsom for their hospitality. The preparation of the workshop programme, identification of the various experts and scientific and editorial support throughout this activity was possible thanks to the immense work of all members of the Scientific Committee established almost one year before the workshop took place. The dedication of Chantal Conand, Steven Purcell, Sven Uthicke, Jean-François Hamel, Annie Mercier and Verónica Toral-Granda were invaluable to the success of the workshop and to the quality of the present document. The organization of the workshop and the preparation of this document were possible thanks to funds provided to FAO by the government of Japan through the Trust Fund Project on “CITES and commercially-exploited aquatic species, including the evaluation of listing proposals”. The workshop organizers also wish to thank the institutions that have permitted their experts to prepare for and attend the workshop. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is thanked for supporting the participation of Kim Friedman, and the University of Nagoya, Japan, for that of Jun Akamine. Finally, the opportunity is taken to thank all the FAO staff members in Rome and Quito (Ecuador), who have contributed in one way or another in the organization of the workshop. The maps of the regional reviews and hotspot areas were prepared by Fabio Carocci. The layout creation was by José Luis Castilla Civit.
Contributors Jun AKAMINE School of Humanities and Social Sciences Nagoya City University Nagoya City, Aichi, Japan
María Dinorah HERREROPÉREZRUL La Paz, Baja California Sur Mexico
Poh Sze CHOO WorldFish Center Penang, Malaysia
Jeff KINCH Coastal Management Advisor Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Program Apia, Samoa
Chantal CONAND Laboratoire ecologie marine Université de la Réunion Saint-Denis, France Eduardo ESPINOZA Galapagos National Park Service Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos, Ecuador Kim FRIEDMAN Secretariat of the Pacific Community Nouméa, New Caledonia Ruth GAMBOA Department of Biology University of the Philippines Mindanao Davao City, Philippines Jean-François HAMEL Society for the Exploration and Valuing of the Environment (SEVE) Newfoundland, Canada Alex HEARN Charles Darwin Foundation Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos Ecuador
Priscilla C. MARTÍNEZ World Wildlife Fund Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos, Ecuador Annie MERCIER Ocean Sciences Centre Memorial University St. John’s Newfoundland & Labrador Canada Steven PURCELL WorldFish Center Nouméa, New Caledonia Verónica TORAL-GRANDA Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos, Ecuador Sven UTHICKE Australian Institute of Marine Science Queensland, Australia Matthias WOLFF Charles Darwin Foundation Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Galapagos, Ecuador
Abbreviations and acronyms ACIAR AFLP ASCAM BACI BFAR CAFID CCC CCFI CDF CFMDP CICIMAR CITES CN-MAD CNMI CPUE CRED CSIRO CUD DA-BFAR DFA DFMR DFO DOST DPRK EEZ EIO EU FAO FFAW FSM FUNZEL GATT GBR GEM-USAID GMR GNPS ICAR ICNAF IMA INVEMAR IPN IQF ITQ IUU
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research amplified fragment length polymorphism Advances in Sea Cucumber Aquaculture and Management before–after, control–impact Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Canada/Newfoundland Cooperation Agreement for Fishing Industry Development Coral Cay Conservation Canadian Center for Fisheries Innovation Charles Darwin Foundation Coastal Fisheries Management and Development Programme Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (Mexico) Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora National Committee in Madagascar Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands catch per unit effort Coral Reef Ecosystem Division Australia Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization Belgian University Corporation for Development Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Canada) Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada) Department of Science and Technology Democratic Peoples’ Republic Korea exclusive economic zone Eastern Indian Ocean European Union Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Fish, Food and Allied Workers Federated States of Micronesia Fundación Zoológica de El Salvador (Honduras) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Great Barrier Reef Growth with Equity in Mindanao Galapagos Marine Reserve Galapagos National Park Service Indian Council of Agricultural Research International Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Inter-Institutional Management Authority Instituto Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (Colombia) Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico) individually quick frozen individual transferable quotas illegal, unregulated and unreported
IWP JPA KNA LRFFT MCS MI MOA MOF MOU MPAs MSI-UP MSY NAFO NB NFA NFC NFRDI NGO NIPAS NL NOAA NS NTZ ONETH OSC PAMB PAMS PCAMRD PICT PMB PNG PROCFish/C RDA RZS SAR SCUBA SEAFDEC SEVE SFA SFAC SFCA SITC SOM SPC TAC TINRO TL
International Waters Project Joint Project Agreement Kenya National Archives Live Reef Fish Food Trade monitoring, control and surveillance Marine Institute Memorandum of Agreement Ministry of Fisheries Memorandum of Understanding marine protected areas Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines maximum sustainable yield Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization New Brunswick National Fisheries Authority National Fisheries Corporation National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (Philippines) Non-governmental Organization National Integrated Protected Areas System Newfoundland and Labrador National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA) Nova Scotia (Canada) No-Take Zone The National Association of Sea Cucumber Producers Ocean Sciences Centre (Memorial University, Canada) Protected Area Management Board Participatory and Adaptive Management Scheme Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development Pacific Island Countries and Territories Participatory Management Board Papua New Guinea Pacific Regional Oceanic and Coastal Development Project Coastal Component Resource Development Associates Rotational Zoning Scheme Special Administrative Region Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center Society for the Exploration and Valuing of the Environment Seychelles Fishing Authority Sea-area Fishery Adjustment Commission Hokkaido Semposhi Fisheries Cooperative Association Standard International Trade Classification Size of Maturity Secretariat of the Pacific Community (formerly the South Pacific Commission) total allowable catch Pacific Fishery and Oceanography Research Institute (Russian Federation) total length
TNC TOP UAE UICN UMAS UPCH USD VMS WIO WIOMSA WMCIP WTO WWF
The Nature Conservancy Technical Operational Procedure United Arab Emirates The World Conservation Union Unidad de Manejo para la Vida Silvestre Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia United States dollar vessel monitoring system Western Indian Ocean Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project World Trade Organization World Wildlife Fund
Executive summary Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea), or their dried form (bêche-de-mer), have been a dietary delicacy and medicinal cure for Asians over many centuries. The collection of sea cucumbers to supply the market has seen a depletion of this resource in the traditional fishing grounds close to Asia and more recently the expansion of this activity to new and more distant fishing grounds. Currently, there are fisheries harvesting sea cucumbers across most of the resource range, including remote parts of the Pacific, the Galapagos Islands, Chile and the Russian Federation. This global review shows that sea cucumber stocks are under intense fishing pressure in many parts of the world and require effective conservation measures. It also shows that sea cucumbers provide an important contribution to economies and livelihoods of coastal communities, being the most economically important fishery and non-finfish export in many countries. Reconciling the need for conservation with the socio-economic importance of sea cucumber fisheries is shown to be a challenging endeavour, particularly for the countries with limited management capacity. Furthermore, no single management measure will work optimally due to the many idiosyncrasies of these fisheries, which are outlined in this document through a comprehensive review of their biological and human dimensions. The present document reviews the population status, fishery, trade, management and socio-economic importance of sea cucumbers worldwide. It includes regional reviews and hotspot case studies prepared by leading experts on sea cucumber fisheries and their management. These documents were made available prior to the FAO Workshop on Sustainable Use and Management of Sea Cucumber Fisheries, held in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, from 19 to 23 November 2007 (workshop agenda, list of participants and their profiles are appended). Reviews were prepared for five regions: temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere (including Canada, Iceland, Russian Federation and the United States of America); Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa and Indian Ocean; Asia; and Western Central Pacific (including Australia). In each region, specialists conducted a case study of a “hotspot” country or fishery to highlight topical or critical problems and opportunities for the sustainable management of sea cucumber fisheries. The five hotspots are: Papua New Guinea (Western Central Pacific); Philippines (Asia); Seychelles (Africa and Indian Ocean), Galapagos Islands (Latin America and the Caribbean); and the Cucumaria frondosa fishery of Newfoundland in Canada (Temperate areas of Northern Hemisphere). A multitude of sea cucumber species are being exploited worldwide, with new species being placed on the market whilst valuable species become scarcer and more difficult to find. Across the five regions, the number of commercially exploited species varies widely, with the highest number of species exploited in the Asia (52 species) and Pacific (36 species) regions partially due to the higher natural diversity in these areas. Still, little is known of the ecology, biology and population status of most commercial species, and in many cases, species are being commercialised without a clear taxonomic identification (e.g. the “pentard” in the Seychelles, Actinopyga sp. in Yap). Information on catches is also scarce, as these fisheries operate over large scales in often remote locations. In view of the importance of international trade, export and import statistics of bêche-de-mer are in many cases the only information available to quantify the magnitude of fisheries catches. Based on the most recent available catch and trade data, Asia and the Pacific are the top producing regions despite the long history of exploitation. Depending on the conversion factor used for the dry:wet weight of sea cucumbers, it is possible
Sea cucumbers: A global review of fisheries and trade
to infer that the combined catches for the Asia and Pacific regions are in the order of 20 000 to 40 000 tonnes/year. The temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere are also responsible for a substantial share of the world catches (in the order of 9 000 tonnes/year); catches being sustained almost exclusively by one species (Cucumaria frondosa). Sea cucumber catches are relatively less important in Africa and in the Indian Ocean (2 000–2 500 tonnes/year) region and, particularly low in Latin America and the Caribbean region (10 ind. ha-1 in broad-scale surveys). In a study from Airai (Anon, 2003), high densities of S. vastus (1 800 ind. ha-1), an unidentified species of Actinopyga (137 ind. ha-1) and H. scabra (40 ind. ha-1) were recorded. Assessments in CNMI in the late-1980s suggested that sea cucumbers have not recovered from the heavy exploitation during the 1920–1940s (Tsuda, 1997; Trianni, 2001, 2002). Trianni (2002) showed changes in densities after the 1997 boom at Saipan had finished. In the Federated States of Micronesia, starting with Yap, surveys of Ngulu Atoll in 1985 found T. ananas in greater abundance then H. whitmaei and H. fuscogilva, with smaller populations of B. argus, S. herrmanni and H. fuscopunctata (Moore and Marieg, 1986). On Yap itself, 17 species of commercial sea cucumbers were recorded, mainly in low densities for the high value species (SPC, 2006a). In Chuuk, 19 species were recorded, but despite wide distribution across the lagoon, populations were considered depleted (SPC, 2006a). Surveys in Pohnpei in 2000 found populations of the commercially important species, H. whitmaei, H. fuscopunctata, B. vitiensis, S. herrmanni, S. chloronotus and T. ananas in relatively high densities, though Lindsay (2000a, 2001b) notes suitable sea cucumber habitats are not abundant. In the Marshall Islands, surveys in 1970s found weak potential for a fishery, with the exception of H. atra because suitable habitat was limited (McElroy, 1990; see also Ebert, 1978; Lawrence, 1979). Lindsay (2001a) and Lindsay and Abraham (2004) also found low densities of commercially valuable species, except H. atra. At Jaluit Atoll, H. whitmaei, H. fuscopunctata, B. vitiensis, S. herrmanni and T. ananas were also scarce (Bungitaki and Lindsay, 2004). In Nauru, six commercial species were recorded during recent in-water surveys, with only A. mauritiana moderately common in certain areas (Kim Friedman, unpublished data). In Kiribati, assessments at the populated atoll of Tarawa (Pauly, 2000) found H. atra and B. vitiensis to be fairly common. Eleven species were recorded in the Gilbert group (Fufudate, 1999). More current SPC PROCFish/C surveys recorded very low densities of sea cucumbers in the Gilbert Group and in the Line Islands (Kim Friedman, unpublished data). Polynesia In Tuvalu in 1978, only the atolls of Funafuti and Nukufetau were identified as having commercial densities of H. fuscogilva, B. argus, T. ananas, H. fuscopunctata, A. miliaris, A. mauritiana, H. whitmaei and B. vitiensis (Belhadjali, 1997). Later surveys in the islands of Funafuti, Nukufetau, Vaitupo and Niutau in 2005 recorded 10 commercial species, with H. fuscogilva and T. ananas of interest for small-scale commercialization. In Tokelau, sea cucumbers were generally at low density in surveys, except for H. atra, which was noted at 8 000–12 000 ind. ha-1. At Fakaofo Atoll, both B. argus and A. mauritiana were recorded in moderately high densities in some places by Passfield (1998), but were considered to be at low abundance by Fisk, Axford and Power (2004a). Similar findings were noted for Fakaofo and Atafu (Fisk, Axford and Power, 2004b, c). From Samoa, there is little sea cucumber stock density data, except for what can be gleaned from marine protected area planning studies (e.g. Fisk, 2002). Recent surveys found 11 commercial species (Friedman et al., 2006). High-value sea cucumber species
Sea cucumbers. A global review of fisheries and trade
were found in low densities (no H. scabra was recorded) and, apart from S. chloronotus, there was a general paucity of medium value species available for exploitation. In Tonga, surveys in the 1990s showed stocks to be overfished following rapid commercialization of sea cucumber resources (Preston and Lokani, 1990; Lokani, Matoto and Ledau, 1996). Following the institution of a 10-year moratorium on commercial fishing, a survey in 2004 found that there was recovery of H. fuscogilva in the nutrient poor, isolated island group of Ha’apai, but H. whitmaei was still at depleted levels (Friedman et al., 2004). A broad fisheries resource survey in Pitcairn Islands visited all the islands in the mid 1990s (Sharples, 1994) and made cursory searches for marketable sea cucumbers. Significant densities were only observed for H. whitmaei at Ducie and Oeno Atolls. During surveys of Niue in the late-1980s, 95 percent of all observed sea cucumbers were the low-valued H. atra (Dalzell, Lindsay and Patiale, 1993). Surveys in mid 2005 by SPC PROCFish/C re-iterated the fact that there is a limited number of sea cucumber species available for commercial fishing and the exposed environment (plus effects of cyclone Heta in 2004) possibly limits abundances (see Fisk, 2004, 2005). In the Cook Islands, most sea cucumber surveys have been conducted at Rarotonga (Drumm, 2004), Aitutaki (Zoutendyk, 1989b) and Palmerston Atoll (Preston et al., 1988) in the southern group. At the latter site, B. argus, H. fuscogilva and H. whitmaei were sparse, although A. mauritiana was relatively abundant. At Rarotonga, the lowvalued H. atra and H. leucospilota were numerous, averaging 9 942 and 8 330 ind. ha-1 respectively (Drumm, 2004). Re-survey of all these sites were completed by SPC PROCFish/C in 2007 (SPC, 2007a, b). In the late-1990s, surveys of sea cucumber population in Tahiti, Rangiroa and Moorea were conducted for the Ministère de la mer de Polynésie française (Anon., 1997, 1998, 1999), whereby a non-conservative annual catch was set at between 20 to 33 percent of the total estimated biomass for each of the sites surveyed. At Tahiti, the estimated catch was 4.1 kg ha-1 year-1 for H. whitmaei, 70.6 kg ha-1 year-1 for B. argus and 67.7 kg ha-1 year-1 for H. atra. At Rangiroa, no H. whitmaei were recorded, but potential catches for B. argus were listed at 4.1 kg ha-1 year-1 and 1 210 kg ha-1 year1 for H. atra. The island of Moorea generally had lower estimates than Rangiroa and Tahiti (Anon, 1998). The overall potential production (wet weights) for Tahiti was suggested to be 2 500 tonnes, 10 792 tonnes for Rangiroa and 142 tonnes for Moorea. Other species noted over the three sites were T. ananas, T. anax, B. vitiensis and A. mauritiana. In these assessments no deeper-water surveys were completed, although Costa (1995) noted that H. fuscogilva was currently fished. More recent assessments in 2004 by SPC PROCFish/C found restricted ranges of species at Tahiti, the Tuamotu, Austral group and Moorea, although moderately high densities for some species were recorded. Melanesia Recent surveys in Papua New Guinea show that stocks are depleted. In the Milne Bay Province, Skewes et al. (2002a) found low densities of commercial holothurians (average of 21 ind. ha-1). Low survey densities and a comparison of historical and recent catch data indicate that H. scabra and H. whitmaei populations have been grossly overexploited. Surveys in the Manus Province in 2006 found most shallow water species depleted but H. fuscogilva still present in moderate numbers in deeper water, despite active fishing (SPC, 2006b). In New Ireland Province, sparse populations were observed of H. scabra, which was targeted at all sizes (SPC, 2006b; NFA, 2007a). In the Solomon Islands, a survey conducted by several conservation nongovernmental organizations and the Division of Fisheries and Marine Resources commonly recorded only two low-valued species: H. edulis and P. graeffei (Ramohia, 2006). T. ananas, A. lecanora, S. chloronotus, H. whitmaei and S. herrmanni were seen
Population status, fisheries and trade of sea cucumbers in the Western Central Pacific
only in low numbers, while A. caerulea, A. mauritiana, H. coluber, H. scabra, B. similis, S. horrens, S. pseudohorrens and T. rubralineata were rare (Ramohia, 2006). Surveys conducted under the International Waters Program in the Marovo Lagoon also report sea cucumber densities to be low (Kinch et al., 2006). Some data are also available from a long term resource survey of the Arnavon Marine Conservation Area in the Isabel Province (Lincoln-Smith et al., 2000). The generally bleak picture of sea cucumber resource status was again recorded in 2006, when sparse populations were found at four survey sites in Guadalcanal, Central and Western Central Provinces (SPC, 2006b). Vanuatu’s volcanic islands generally lack large protected lagoons, but reasonable densities of sea cucumbers exist. A past survey found S. chloronotus and H. atra abundant at Gaua Island (Baker, 1929). Chambers (1989) found relatively dense populations of A. miliaris (785 ind. ha-1) and H. scabra (43 ind. ha-1) in studies in 1987. Recent surveys found a wide range of species present, but densities were low at the island of Efate, compared with results from the island of Malekula (Friedman, K., unpublished data). New Caledonia’s holothurians have been well documented by Conand’s (1989) thesis on the ecology and biology and densities of commercial sea cucumber species. Inshore surveys by the WorldFish Center in New Caledonia during 2003–2005, found variable densities of H. scabra, indicating some over-harvesting. Of 35 sites surveyed, 33 of them had mean densities under 30 ind. ha-1, with only two with densities over 100 ind. ha-1 (Purcell, S., unpublished data). Likewise, H. scabra was found at only one of the five SPC PROCFish/C survey sites (Friedman, K., unpublished data). In a 2004 survey of New Caledonia by conservation NGOs, H. whitmaei and T. ananas were observed at low densities (Lindsay and McKenna, 2006). Field surveys of 50 lagoon and barrier reef sites in a ZoNéCo project have found generally low densities of commercial species, but occasional dense (>100 ind. ha-1) patches of certain species, like A. palauensis, A. spinea, S. chloronotus, S. herrmanni, S. horrens and T. ananas (Purcell, Gossuin and Agudo, in press). In Fiji, Stewart (1993) observed H. scabra at 625 ind. ha-1 and SPC PROCFish/C in 2003 estimated reasonably high densities of 160 ha-1 close to Suva (Friedman, K., unpublished data). In the 1980s, A. miliaris made up a large proportion of the commercial catch, and occurred at high density at some sites (Preston et al., 1989). Surveys of the Vanua Levu Lagoon sites over a decade later found both a more restricted distribution and lower densities for this species (Friedman, K., unpublished data). Australia and New Zealand Recent research has shown that most stocks in three of Australia’s sea cucumber fisheries are overexploited. These are the Torres Strait (Skewes, Burridge and Hill, 1998), the Timor Sea MOU74 Box (Skewes et al., 1999), and Queensland (Uthicke and Benzie, 2000a). Uthicke and Benzie (2000a) found an approximately 1:5 ratio for populations of H. whitmaei in fished and non-fished areas, respectively, on the Great Barrier Reef. In 1996, a survey of Warrior Reef in the Torres Strait showed suppressed stocks of H. scabra, comprised of small individuals (Long et al., 1996). A follow-up survey in 1998 confirmed these observations, so the management body closed the fishery (Skewes, Burridge and Hill, 1998). Surveys in 2000 (Skewes, Dennis and Burridge, 2000), 2002 (Skewes et al., 2002b) and 2004 (Skewes et al., 2004) demonstrated a slow recovery of H. scabra stocks on Warrior Reef (Skewes et al., 2006). After the H. scabra closure in 1998, fishers targeted other species, particularly H. whitmaei, H. fuscogilva and A. mauritiana. By 2002, there was evidence of some depletions elsewhere, with population densities for many species