Unlawfully harvested beche-de-mer from Ontong Java arrive in Honiara
BY JARED KOLI
A large consignment of dried beche-de-mer, alleged to have been illegally harvested in Ontong Java during the ban period, has arrived in Honiara yesterday.
Island Sun witnessed the unloading of hundreds of bags of beche-de-mer from the chartered vessel MV Onogou at Pt Cruz wharf yesterday.
These tainted products arrive ahead of an announcement by the ministry of fisheries (MFMR) on the four beche-de-mer export licence holders, which insiders indicate will be anytime soon.
Dr Reginald Aipia of the Ontong Java Development Authority told Island Sun that last year Chinese buyers from Honiara gave $40,000 to the Ontong Java House of Chiefs to engage people to illegally harvest sea cucumber.
“700 bags of flour and 700 packets of sugar were also given by the Chinese buyers on the condition that Ontong Javans dive and prepare the sea cucumber for them before the Ministry of Fisheries announce the date of the harvest period.
“They even know beforehand that the harvest period would open in September 2017 and already stock up sea cucumber ready to give to the Chinese buyers by August this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, locals are raising frustration in social media over the slowness by MFMR in announcing the four exporters, with the open season deadline only a month away.
The ban over Beche-de-mer resumes on November 30.