23 Sep 2008

Tonga lifts sea cucmber fishing ban

3:14 pm on 23 September 2008

Tonga has lifted its decade ban on the fishing of sea cucumbers but for a limited six months period a year.

Tonga's Deputy Director of the Ministry of Fisheries 'Ulunga Fa'anunu says Cabinet has passed a new Fisheries Management Conservation Regulation 2008 , lifting the ban on sea cucumber fishing between April to September .

Closing the fishery during the the spawning season should ensure stocks remain healthy, but he says they will monitor levels closely.

"Actually during the closing season, we will conduct a survey to see the standing stock and decide the quota every or each year, but it will depend. If we find that the resources will decline then we'll close it. But if it continues to be sustainable, then we'll continue it indefinitely. 24"

The Ministry has awarded nine local fishing companies licenses for the lucrative delicacy in Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai, mainly for export to Asian countries.

Tonga had banned the collecting of sea cucumbers because of fears of over fishing.