BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
The ministry of fisheries (MFMR) is warning of a collapse in the local beche-de-mer industry if illegal harvesting continues unabated.
MFMR Director Eddie Honiwala said beche-de-mer stocks are down and may not recover if the illegal activities continue.
Honiwala echoed this yesterday as the ministry destroyed confiscated illegally harvested beche-de-mer.
“It is important for our people to note that our beche-de-mer stocks are fished down and if this continues, this fishery will collapse soon. We don’t want to drive this important fishery down that path,” he said.
Honiwala said the current ban to harvesting is to give the beche-de-mer stocks time to recover.
“With the current level of over-fishing and low density around the country, the closure period should be longer than five years.
“Continuous illegal harvesting will not do any good to the BDM stocks, or to our communities but will drive this important fishery to a level where, we will no longer have the beche-de-mer fishery in the future and our future generations will no longer have any beche-de-mer fishery to enjoy as today,” he said.
He said in the previous data recorded it showed that majority of the confiscated beche-de-mer products were of low value species.
“This is an indication that high value species were no longer found in many places, so people have no option but to fish low value species.”
Beche-de-mer fishery was closed in 2019 under the prohibition order made under section 22 of the Fisheries Management Act 2015.
Under the prohibition order, fishing or possession of any species of beche-de-mer from fisheries waters is prohibited, effective from May 31, 2019. Further to the above, export of any species of beche-de-mer is prohibited effective from June 30, 2019.