Beche-de-mer ban

FIJI is on the verge of losing two beche- de-mer species that were once found in depths of less than 10 metres.

Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau made the remarks while delivering his ministerial statement in Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Koroilavesau said if Government did not make hard decisions to protect species of beche-de-mer from over-harvesting and commercial exploit, the younger generation would not live to see or know of the two species called the golden sandfish and blackfish.

“In May last year, the initial closure of the beche-de-mer fishery was first announced. The decision and announcement was based not only on the scientific information available, but also focused on operational information that was gathered over time,” he said.

Mr Koroilavesau said published reports indicated that local species were facing extinction because of commercial trade.

“The irony is that beche-de-mer are easily accessed from the comfort of our beaches, they are stationary and do not swim away when approached,” he said.

“They cannot fight back if you compare them to other species of finfish which makes them vulnerable of being exploited.”

Mr Koroilavesau said prior to the announcement of the ban, surveys conducted by the ministry indicated that there had been an increase in use of scuba tanks in the harvesting of beche-de-mer.

He said while the ministry continued to try and combat the illegal use of scuba, it was an indication that there were not enough species available in depth of less than 30m.