Ministry of fisheries and marine resources maintains prohibition on beche-de-mer harvesting


The Ministry of fisheries and marine resources (MFMR) is upholding its ban on the harvest of beche-de-mer.

This is light of appeals by the people of Ontong Java, Malaita province’s outlier atolls to have the ban lifted.

MFMR reiterated its prohibition on the harvesting, possession, landing, receiving, buying, selling, or export of any species of Beche-de-mer (BDM) during a meeting with the residents of Ontong Java in Honiara yesterday.

This ban, effective on September 1, 2022, was officially declared in the Gazette of Prohibited Activities (Fishing and Possession of Beche-de-mer) Order 2021.

Addressing a large gathering in the Lord Howe settlement in Chinatown, a compliance officer from the Ministry emphasized that there has been no official communication in the media regarding the lifting of the ban.

Any rumors suggesting the ban’s imminent removal this month or the next are baseless, he warned.

“There is a specific procedure in place to lift the ban,” the officer explained.

“The presence of a research team in Lord Howe signals the beginning of the procedure, aimed at assessing the stock of Beche-de-mer. If the research team determines that the stock is healthy, the Ministry will submit a report to the Cabinet for consideration to lift the ban.”

Rinah Mark, legal officer of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, underscored that the primary objective is to manage marine products.

She disclosed that, since the last opening, scientific reports revealed a significant reduction in the size of Beche-de-mer, with approximately 80 percent of sea cucumbers depleted.

“Based on these findings, the Ministry will present a report to the Cabinet to sustain the ban,” she stated.

Mark outlined the procedural steps to lift the ban, indicating that the Director, with the advice of the Cabinet, holds the authority to lift the ban based on scientific research findings.

“This is a national ban, applicable not just to Ontong Java but to everyone in the Solomon Islands,” she clarified.

Despite the ban, residents of Ontong Java voiced concerns over illegal harvesting, alleging the involvement of Chinese business individuals supported by local Chiefs.

A compliance officer acknowledged these concerns, revealing that the Ministry, in collaboration with the Police, had submitted a $1.6 million budget last year to address illegal harvesting in Ontong Java.

“Unfortunately, the budget was dropped due to the government’s focus on the Pacific Games in Honiara,” he said.

Leslie Simao, Director of the National Criminal Investigation Department (Supervising), emphasized that harvesting Beche-de-mer during the ban is a punishable offense.

He urged individuals with evidence of illegal harvesting to report such activities to the police for appropriate action.

Simao emphasized the collective responsibility to protect Beche-de-mer for future generations.

Apart from that, the residents have agreed to convene and strategize on addressing the ongoing food shortage in Ontong Java.

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