Pohnpeians protest sea cucumber harvest by Young Sun Corp. in this 2016 file photo. Photo by Kaselehlie Press
Pohnpei (Kaselehlie Press) —The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has released a 55-page assessment of sea cucumber stocks in Pohnpei waters. The result suggest that sea cucumber stock have not recovered from a long history of harvesting prior to the 1991 moratorium and may have been impacted by other factors such as the 2016 harvest, the subsistence harvest for the local market, a disruption to the ecosystem and detrimental fishing practices.
It says that a preliminary cost-benefit analysis, based on calculated harvestable stock of pinkfish and surf redfish, indicates that there would be little benefit from proceeding with such a small harvest and that it may encourage illegal fishing to generate more profits. It says that fishers earned a total of $16,854 during the 2016 harvest. The estimation of the selling prices for the harvested sea cucumbers was $123,631.
Pohnpei State collected a $25,000 licensing fee from Young Sun Corp. Because of those factors, the SPC report recommends maintaining the moratorium on commercial harvesting but it says that if Pohnpei State decided to allow a commercial harvest of sea cucumbers it should at the bare minimum develop a management plan before any harvest is conducted. The assessment provides several management suggestions. SPC report on sea cucumber populations recommends moratorium on commercial harvest should remain.
The civil action filed by the Mwoalen Wahu against Pohnpei State and Young Sun Corporation in 2016 resulted in a temporary injunction against implementing the planned commercial harvest of sea cucumbers. The case is still before the court for consideration of the issuance of a permanent injunction.