“People found illegally harvesting and buying beche-de-mer in view of the current ban on the marine product will be prosecuted,” warns the Director of Fisheries, Mr Edward Honiwala.
Mr Honiwala issued the warning yesterday in a statement from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) following reports that illegal harvesting and buying continues regardless of the current beche-de-mer ban.
Reports reaching the Director’s Office said certain individuals are spreading false information in coastal communities that the current ban has been lifted.
“Those who continue to harvest and buy beche-de-mer must stop immediately as they are breaking the law,” Honiwala warned.
MFMR’s compliance team will strengthen efforts to monitor and deal with those that are taking part in this illegal harvesting,” he warns.
MFMR will investigate this illegal beche-de-mer harvesting as it is reportedly linked to certain individuals and business houses in Honiara.
The Director of Fisheries warns all business houses to refrain from aiding these illegal harvesting as the consequences and penalties will be imposed heftily.
“Remember you are breaking the Law of this country and you will be dealt with accordingly”, he warned.
The Ministry wishes to explain that the export data and the stock assessments are evident that the beche de mer fishery is highly exploited and overfished. The stocks will collapse if people continue with these unsustainable harvesting practices.
“The scientific data that the Ministry has have shown that low valued species and under sized products are dominating the export volumes. The national stock status surveys also show very low densities in the reefs as well. These are strong indicators that the fishery is heavily over harvested”, he explains.
The Director of Fisheries strongly reiterates that with the strong indication that the beche-de-mer fishery is heavily over harvested, the fishery will not open.
Lifting the ban at this stage will only contribute to the over exploitation and depletion of the already vulnerable sea cucumber or beche-de-mer stocks.
Meanwhile the Fisheries Director appeals to all Solomon Islands to respect the ban.
“I appeal to the good people of Solomon Islands to respect the ban. Our future generations will also want to benefit from these important resources which takes considerable amount of time to recover,” he said.