Development of sea cucumber production in the Asia-Pacific RegionUpdate: 12/3/2013
Sea cucumbers like the sandfish species (Holothuria scabra) are a traditional commodity used for dietary and medicinal purposes in China and elsewhere in Asia.
For many years, their harvest has supported livelihoods in coastal communities throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Yet their ease of capture, biological vulnerability, and expanding consumer base in middle-income China has led to precipitous declines in wild stocks.
For example, in the Philippines, annual catches are now less than 30% of those enjoyed 25 years ago.
This has widespread implications for coastal livelihoods in villages that have relied on this commodity, and where few alternative sources of cash income are available.
Research to date has shown that the production of sandfish in a variety of ways (such as ranching, restocking and culturing) represents a viable and environmentally positive livelihood for coastal communities in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, there are still a number of significant issues to be addressed before this can become a reality.
-- Culturing: Further investigating and developing options for the pond-based mono- and co-culture (with shrimp and finfish) of sandfish in Vietnam and the Philippines.
-- Restocking: Replenishing selected sandfish populations through the restocking of marine reserves, designed to rebuild a critical mass of spawning adults.
Scientists will provide a ‘toolbox’ of production technologies and methods within the range of available capabilities and infrastructure in selected areas in the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia.
For example, a bio-economic model will be developed that will, in due course, reveal the feasibility of sea ranching and culturing, as well as the optimum schedule for harvesting.
Simplification of both hatchery and nursery systems will also ensure that this technology will be broadly applicable across isolated coastal communities in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information click here