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Ban 'needs clarity'

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, November 30, 2017

MEMBERS of the Yaubula Management Committee under the Fiji Locally Marine Managed Areas are still not clear on the application of the ban on sea cucumbers.

FLMMA executive Margaret Tabunakawai said members of the committee at last week's workshop held in Bua admitted that the application was confusing.

Ms Tabunakawai said members of the committee questioned the operation of local beche-de-mer buyers because they were still encouraging the trade.

"Two fisheries officers presented the details of the issue at the AGM, but they only reiterated that the decision was made by the Minister of Fisheries," she said.

"It sounded to us and the members that things are not clear as to how far down the trade chain the ban applied or who is covered under the ban. This confusion is common with the Bua representatives who deal hands-on with the issue because they are actively involved in the industry. One thing they mentioned is that middlemen are still coming down to their villages to buy sea cucumber. The only thing they have stopped is the use of scuba gear because they were made aware that the ministry is strict about it. They have asked for us to sit with the ministry and clarify who is covered under the ban.

"Personally, it is not clear whether the sea cucumbers are closed to export or right down to those harvesting because in reality villagers are still selling and harvesting beche-de-mer."

The issue was raised at the recent Bua Provincial Council meeting where a representative of the ministry told representatives that the ban was initiated to protect the stock of sea cucumber.

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