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Calls to lift beche-de-mer ban

Solomon Times
Friday, August 17, 2012

The Solomon Islands Government is being called on by a local chief to lift the beche-de-mer ban it had imposed four years ago while investigating the illegal harvesting and trading of the marine commodity.

The Assistant Paramount Chief of Duff Islands in Temotu Province, Noel Hatu says his people depend very much on the marine commodity for survival and are finding it difficult to obtain money with the limited resources they have.

Chief Hatu says the Government's ban on harvesting and selling of beche-de-mer has badly affected his people, especially school children. He says with no money to pay for school fees, children are no longer attending schools.

Similarly for the tiny atoll of Ontong Java, 30 years of continuous fishing has brought the sea cucumber fishery to collapse. With few other sources of cash, people are now enduring hardship.

Sea cucumber and beche-de-mer (its processed form) is a source of livelihood for many communities but it is being overfished as a result of continuous fishing and lack of effective management by authorities. Communities are now feeling the pain of losing an important income source.

Bêche-de-mer is a luxury food in China where it is called "hai sen" and said to have medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. High demand for the product has provided a lucrative trade for small businesses throughout the Pacific.