A Rapid Assessment Of The Sea Cucumber Trade From Africa To Asia

Over the last few decades, there has been a marked increase in the expansion and development of invertebrate fisheries, which is largely attributed to the increasing demand and need for new resources to harvest (Anderson et al., 2011). One increasingly harvested group is sea cucumbers, which are echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea. There are approximately 1,717 known sea cucumber species occurring worldwide, and 15 species have a conservation status of either Endangered or Vulnerable, with declining population trends as a result of overharvesting (Rahman & Yusoff, 2017). Sea cucumbers are harvested and traded in more than 70 countries worldwide, with exploitation occurring at scales ranging from semi-industrial fisheries (Seychelles) to small artisanal fisheries (Tanzania) (Purcell et al., 2012). Harvesting of sea cucumbers is predominantly to supply the dried seafood market in Asia (Conand, 2018). The processed and dried sea cucumbers, known as bêche-de-mer or trepang, are exported in large quantities to Asia where it is a highly valued product and considered a seafood delicacy, commonly consumed at banquets, weddings and festive meals (Clarke, 2002).