Gov't bans sea cucumber fishing ahead of J$30-m study

Monday, April 20, 2015

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – In light of the implementation of a J$30-million study to determine the prospects and viability of the sea cucumber industry in Jamaica, Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is imposing a prohibition on sea cucumber fishing in the island’s waters.

In a release Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier explained the reason for this. He said it was as a result of the sea cucumber industry currently being unregulated and uncontrolled, and due to the high level of interest in the species and status of the stock, the Government was also closing fishing for sea cucumber until a management plan is developed and adopted by the authorities.

Minister Kellier was speaking at a ceremony to officially sign the agreement for conducting the sea cucumber study at the ministry's Hope Gardens, St Andrew offices on Thursday, April 17.

The study will examine capacity building in resource assessment and management of the Jamaican sea cucumber fishery and potential for aquaculture development, aimed at creating a sustainable basis for the operation of a management system, and will specifically focus on the holothurian species of sea cucumber. It is being conducted through grant funding of over J$30 million from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Welcoming the support of the FAO in funding the study, Kellier said that species diversification was one option to reduce the level of stress on the existing reef fisheries and that sea cucumbers had been identified as one of the several underutilised species with the potential for development.

At present, he said, there was a lack of technical expertise to assess, manage and monitor the 16 species of sea cucumbers that inhabit Jamaican waters, six of which are deemed to be commercially important and are currently being exploited illegally.

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