[Coral-List] Fwd: Move to regulate Florida sea cucumber driven by Asian appetite

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Mon Mar 3 16:10:25 EST 2014

I'm posting this for Walt Smith.   Cheers,  Doug

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Walt Smith <walt at waltsmith.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 9:49 AM
Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Move to regulate Florida sea cucumber driven by
Asian appetite
To: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>

Hi Doug,
An interesting article and rings a bell. Being from both Tonga and Fiji for
the past 25 years I have watched the cucumber trade come and go out of Tonga
and then come back again based on greed and the cost of a license to collect
them that went straight into the pockets of the corrupt officials. Several
years ago they issued more than 55 licenses at the cost of more than $50,000
each and last year they had few takers because the stock had been depleted
so badly it wasn't worth it to spend the money and time to "try" and collect
In Fiji the trade has finally reached that level  of over extraction.
Actually the industry has existed here for more than 100 years but the last
20 competitive Chinese exporters drove the market to near extinction.
The Fiji government has just passed a law to prohibit scuba gear in their
collection and are diligent in enforcing it. However one of the main reasons
for the law was to protect the Fiji diver from death and paralyses. Almost
every family in the villages (in the island groups where they are collected)
has at least one family member who is either dead or crippled for life due
to this trade. Reason? They are now only found in very deep water ....
dangerous to unskilled divers. Also contributing to the greed is the price.
This is what struck me so hard reading that article. Mr. Lee is seriously
pulling the wool over someone's eyes or the reporter got it wrong. In Fiji a
diver is paid between $70 - $100 per kilo of beche-de-mer depending on
specie. One large specimen can weigh up to 2 kg and rarely less than 1 kg.
The exporters are among the richest Chinese in Fiji. I once asked one of the
exporters, that I was observing selling a pallet load to overseas buyers,
what that pallet is worth and I was told "more than $80,000 USD!
Of course it is possible that the Florida specie bring less market price but
hard to believe since he stated they were being used to present as "gifts"
to Government officials. You have to ask yourself that if you wanted to
present this sort of gift to bribe someone wouldn't it be the best "gold
label" you could find? .... just sayin

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas Fenner
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 7:14 AM
To: coral list
Subject: [Coral-List] Move to regulate Florida sea cucumber driven by Asian

This story ran recently in many Florida newspapers.


The article includes some humor, saying that "This is a story about sex,
supply and demand, global trade, corruption, government regulation and one
of the ugliest sea creatures in Florida."  (obviously written to try to get
people to read the article)

and that it "a long and lumpy invertebrate that looks like a cross between a
diseased zucchini and an overinflated eclair."

But it may be a more serious issue than that.   Cheers,  Doug

Cheers,  Doug

Douglas Fenner
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

phone 1 684 622-7084
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