26 May 2012

Tonga fisheries imposes three-year ban on sea cucumbers

9:13 am on 26 May 2012

Tonga has closed the fishing of sea cucumbers for three years to allow the stock to recover from overfishing and illegal fishing.

The Matangi Tonga website reports the ministry's director, Dr Vailala Matoto, saying that sea cucumber fishing is unsustainable at its current rate.

He says the government will revise the management plan and conduct an assessment of stock levels in two years' time.

Dr Matoto says an earlier 10-year moratorium allowed levels to recover but since it was lifted in 2008 people have failed to harvest sustainably.

He says the ministry will be working with customs and police to crack down on illegal fishing and black market activities.

Dr Vailala said he was aware that some jobs and earnings would be affected by the closure but it was necessary for the long-term benefit.