Project to revive Papua New Guinea’s lucrative beche-de-mer export industry begins at new mariculture centre in Kavieng

A four-year, A$1.7 million (K3.6 million) project has begun to map out how to revive Papua New Guinea’s dormant sea cucumber industry.

The USC's Paul Southgate with beche-de-mer

The USC’s Paul Southgate with beche-de-mer

Fishing industry insiders believe that a ban on gathering and selling beche-de-mer, or sea cucumbers, may be lifted in the near future.The PNG Government introduced the moratorium in 2009 because of over-fishing.

‘Stocks have recovered quite well so that the moratorium may be lifted at some stage, but what we want to avoid is a repeat of what happened in the past, and avoid overfishing,’ says Project Leader Paul Southgate, the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Professor of Sustainable Tropical Agriculture.

The project is being funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and will be based at the PNG National Fisheries Authority’s Mariculture Research Facility in Kavieng.

The facility is a former Japanese-owned tuna processing plant, which the NFA developed to create a modern mariculture research centre.

In demand

Southgate says locals and National Fisheries Authority staff will be trained in sustainably culturing marine species for potential export to Australian and Asian markets.

‘Sea cucumbers are quite strange-looking animals, but they are in high demand in south-east Asia for their perceived medicinal properties,’ says Southgate.

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‘Prices for the highest grade, and those species most in demand, are around the A$250 to A$400 (K530 to K850) a kilo mark. But, in Hong Kong, prices can range from US$115 to 640 per kg (K349 to K1,940).

‘So there’s a lot of demand and huge opportunity. The question is where supply comes from.’

Sustainability

Mariculture provides an opportunity for a more regular supply of product, says Southgate, ‘so: constant and routine supply, rather than a boom-and-bust type situation, which characterises sea cucumber fisheries.’

‘We are using pens to culture juvenile sea cucumbers at this research stage. But, as the industry develops, we may progress to ranching: basically, producing the animals in a hatchery and then releasing the juveniles into good sites or areas which we know suit growth and development.

‘Prices for the highest grade and those species most in demand are around the A$250-400 (K530-K850) a kilo mark. But in Hong Kong, prices can range from US$115-640 per kg (K349-K1,940). So there’s a lot of demand and huge opportunity.’

‘The research will look at how we can identify aquaculture animals so they can be differentiated from wild collected sea cucumbers.

‘Anecdotally, wild sea cucumbers are reputed to have greater quality but it’s hard to know where that information comes from because very few people have actually aquacultured them and grown them to market size. Our research indicates that cultured sea cucumbers have very similar qualities to those collected from the wild.’

The project will map those parts of the PNG coastline which are suitable for sea cucumber culture, sites which are less suitable and sites which are unsuitable. It will estimate potential production values for each of those areas.

Marketing

The project will also look at how to market beche-de-mer, from packaging through to labelling, which will probably promote the product as coming from a sustainable farming regime.

Initial research has shown that the potential income from sea cucumber farming could be A$32,000 (K68,620) per hectare per year in New Ireland.

An assessment of sea cucumber fisheries in the Western, Central and Manus Provinces in 2007 showed that on average, households which harvested sea cucumbers could make A$1,400-4,2000 (K3,000-K9,000) per year from the sale of beche-de-mer.

Comments

  1. Robert kulno says:

    Can someone give mi some pricing ideas of dried sea cucumbers.
    I have stock to export.

  2. John Akua says:

    Please tell me agent buyer in Lae so I can contact them. I have the product.

    • Willie peterson says:

      My father is a sea cucumber license buyer in Kimbe so you need or wants to sell sea cucumber please call:70142376.

      Will help you.

      Thanks,

      Willie

  3. Hi, and can you please email me the procedure and process or steps on how to go about to been a sea cucumber seller to the specific markets. Especially the preferred sea cucumbers on the market as there are different species of sea cucumbers and don’t want to harvest the wrong ones.

  4. Please send me information for sea cucumbers collection,when is the right time for collection and also the process of drying it. Also the prices for each type.

    Thank you

    Willie

  5. Andrew.Wallam says:

    What species of sea cucumber in PNG are morally exported to overseas markets.

  6. Hilda Lipen Julius says:

    Hi,
    I am interested in ranching of sea cucumber, please provide me more information.
    also, I am in the process of collecting data from our small lagoon after this years harvesting.
    please email me information on standards size for harvesting and where to get more information to equaijohanis@gmail.com
    regards,
    Hilda

  7. Bradley Apawa says:

    I have 2 tons of Sea cucumber sitting in my storage..Any interested buyers pls forward your price list to my email address..bta.apawa@gmail.com

  8. Douglas Kendi says:

    We have availble sea cucumber from AROB, any interested buyers can contact me at Pomexport.services@gmail.com

  9. Ryan Sagowa Nagayagaya says:

    I currently have 6 x 50kg full packed of sand fish sea cucumber and am very much interested to find a buyer at a reasonable price, harvested in South coast of Kiriwina, Trobrian Island. Please advise through my email address.

  10. Andrew Mai says:

    Could someone please provide me with the details of how to process the harvest and details of prices for the various species? I have clients in wishing to go into this business.

  11. Lawrence Solomon says:

    The plan for sustainable harvest of sea cucumbers will take sometime to achieve. Opening of the 2017 bdm harvest season is a welcome for ordinary fishers after 7 years closure. However after a month of fishing this animal there are serious issues that have come to light.
    To fishers it is doing the most familiar, the same thing they did in 2009. This means a “free for all” harvesting of sea cucumbers of any size and any animal. The Management Plan on bdm requires minimum live and dried bdm but the fishers don’t know anything about this. No one from NFA carried out awareness about the new Management Plan. As a result in Buka AROB, there are huge volumes of undersized bdm, and in the case of Surf Redfish ratio of undersized to legal size is 20:1 in Kg. There are processing issues also and wastages.
    In Buka we have a Chinese buying even undersized bdm and people from the nearby islands have flocked into Buka town some spending several nights there trying to sell bdm. Other buyers are trying to stick to the law but are under pressure to buy also undersized bdm.
    We don’t know how much of TAC for AROB had been reached so far as reporting is slow. If buyers are reporting only bdm’s that meet minimum sizes then there is a real risk of over fishing. That is if TAC is composed of only legal sized bdm and undersized bdm not taken into account this fishery will collapse.
    A ban for 6 years is inevitable.

  12. Leonard Jahak says:

    Those of you looking for BDM buyers to buy your products should consult your respective provincial fisheries office so they can direct you to licensed BDM buyers.

  13. NFA should set a standard price for buyers (exporters) to comply. For example, lowest species before the ban was around K25 per kilo. This time around I would be expecting the price to double or triple. Some of the places like where I come from in (atoll islands), this is our main source of income and we do not want prices that can only afford us a packet of rice. We need better homes and other important things a family need. If prices remain low and another ban come into force, there will be absolutely nothing to show for, people will remain suffer.

  14. Gibson Vavine says:

    Our fishermen sell their sea cucumbers for K30.00 per kilo..Can you direct us on where to sell our stock for the right price.

  15. Abraham Motowaya says:

    Pls forward me further details to what’s being briefly outlined, ta

  16. Geoffrey Kara says:

    I am a looking for potential buyer to export sea cucumber. Please, let me know of the price for various species.

    Kind regards
    Geoffrey

  17. Chris Ipien says:

    I understand the ban on harvesting sea cucumber in PNG has now been lifted. Are there any addresses that I can make direct contact for information on current market price for local farmers and export. I’m also interested where the sea cucumbers from png will be exported to.

    Thank you

  18. Rod kairu says:

    Can we encourage our local fishers to try sea ranching to conserve mature stock?
    Doing business while promoting conservation is a must. Am afraid if nothing is done now will lose most parent stock through uncontrolled harvesting thereby no opportunity for effective spawning/recruitment hence no seacumber for future benefit.
    Our people need support and guidance

  19. Nick.Kaidoga says:

    I am going to produce sea cucumber at kaileuna island in Trobriand islands.
    Who will give me a good price to buy my product.?
    And please up date the places in PNG .also the prices for the sea cucumber per kilo.

  20. How can I get latest updates of who an attend courses and when to give correct infor to the village people who will interested in attending?

    Kind regards
    Lora

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