Coastal Fisheries Programme
Number 28 - October 2008


Group Coordinator and Bulletin Editor:
Igor Eeckhaut, Marine Biology, 6 Av. Champ de Mars, University of Mons-Hainaut, 7000 Mons Belgium.

Information Section, Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Produced with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand

From Chantal Conand

Twenty years ago when I accepted to start the SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin, I was far from thinking that holothurian fisheries, although important for some countries, would become a subject of worldwide interest. They have evolved progressively from the traditional tropical Indo-Pacific activities, to more industrial fisheries in most countries where the resource has been found. During these years, the needs and possibilities, via Internet, to share the originally scarce information have exploded! The SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin bulletin developed and is presently very well known, read and used for references.

I am very thankful to SPC’s Marine Resources Division director, officers and staff, with a special mention to Aymeric Desurmont, for their continuous efforts to edit, translate and disseminate the issues with enthusiasm and on time. It has been a pleasure for me to be a part of this long-lasting collaboration.

Many thanks to all the contributors; this bulletin is yours! You were mostly from fishery or biological fields at the beginning, but now the fields are very different and specialised and include, for example, taxonomy, genetics, and cellular biology to pharmaceutical uses.

During these years, I have tried to encourage young scientists to publish their observations, helping them in any way that I could, when they were preparing their first contribution on a fishery or on a country. Despite the fact that the bulletin is not a refereed journal (which in the present rush for indexed publications discourages some writers), the contributions are always cited and the general opinion is that the bulletin is very useful.

I finally thank Igor Eeckhaut who, notwithstanding his many responsibilities, has accepted to co-edit this issue and become the future editor. I am sure that he will help to develop this bulletin according to the wishes of the different contributors and readers interested in this particular fishery, which now deserves more international attention, but urgently needs management.

Chantal Conand

Brief tribute to Chantal Conand, outgoing Editor

When I was a junior officer with the Fiji Fisheries Division in the 1980s, the boss asked me to draft a briefing paper on the state of the beche-de-mer industry for Cabinet. Worries were being expressed at the rapid escalation in the number of companies applying for export licences. Cabinet needed to know how much fishing was actually taking place and what level of exports could be sustained in this hitherto smallscale fishery.

I talked to old hands at the Fisheries Division, I talked to fishermen, I talked to exporters and I talked to the Customs Department. I even went to the library and looked up documents from the previous century, and was able to build a picture of the history of the beche-de-mer fishery in Fiji and put the latest spike of exploitation into some sort of context. But I wasn’t able to include much science. There just didn’t seem to be much published about tropical sea cucumbers, particularly from a fisheries management perspective.

My Cabinet paper had plenty of local information in it, but didn’t provide much guidance about sustainability, about growth rates, spawning seasons, preferred habitats, or what the population density should be for a healthy natural stock.

Chantal Conand’s work came as a godsend. Through her FAO Technical Report, and through the 1988 SPC Inshore Fisheries Resources Workshop, she communicated her own seminal work on holothurians together with an authoritative overview of everything else that was known, and likely to be of value in managing the exploitation of these species, at the time. As a result, my next briefing was greatly improved.

That 1988 SPC workshop also led to the setting up of a number of Special Interest Groups — networks of experts on particular fishery resources of particular interest to Pacific Island fisheries managers — but for which there seemed to be a general scarcity of information. These networks were facilitated by the publication of a six-monthly (or so) bulletin, which would provide both an opportunity for Pacific Island fisheries scientists to disseminate their own practical knowledge to each other, and for research in the rest of the world to be distilled for the benefit of Pacific Island fisheries managers.

This Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin is one such Special Interest Group (SIG), and Chantal, as SIG coordinator and voluntary editor-in-chief, has been both stalwart and inspirational in leading its production since 1990. SPC, the Pacific Island fisheries community, and holothurian research in general, owe her a large vote of thanks.

This will be the 28th issue of the Bulletin. A measure of its relevance is the fact that it has grown from 12, to more than 50 pages during the course of its life so far, and it has found a much wider readership on the worldwide web. It is no longer just a Pacific resource, but an international resource.

We wish Chantal all the very best for the future, and we’re very glad to be able to continue to call upon her wisdom during the transitional period as she co-edits this issue of the Bulletin together with the future editor, Igor Eeckhaut.

Dr Tim Adams

Director, Marine Resources Division



When Chantal asked me to take over as the scientific editor of the SPC Beche-de-Mer Information Bulletin, I was first astonished because many contributors of the bulletin were much more involved in the biology of holothurians than I was. I was indeed first interested in echinoderm biology and in the ecology of organisms living in association with them. For 10 years now, I have been involved in sea cucumber aquaculture projects, which has allowed me to discover another world, different but very exiting too, where science interacts with socioeconomic issues. On reflection, I am really proud to take up the challenge and I hope to maintain, with the help of contributors, the quality and diversity of articles.

This issue begins with a summary of the FAO Fisheries Technical Paper “Sea cucumbers. A global review on fishery and trade”, now in press, following the FAO International Workshop on the Sustainable Use and Management of Sea Cucumber Fisheries (Toral-Granda et al.).

Friedman et al. report on the development of a management plan for Yap’s sea cucumber fishery. Yap State is one of four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia. The status of sea cucumber fisheries and a management plan for Saudi Arabian sea cucumbers are discussed by Hasan.

Eeckhaut et al. discuss how the first sea cucumber-based trade company in Madagascar was recently started. New processing methods used in the Toliara area of Madagascar are also reported on by Lavitra et al.

Mulochau and Conand inventoried the sea cucumbers of the Glorieuses archipelago. Today, these islands are nature reserves, which are useful for comparing anthropogenic effects on sea cucumber populations.

Aydin gives information on Turkey’s sea cucumber fisheries, which is rapidly expanding and is already exporting more than 70 metric tonnes per year. Ruffez explains the dramatic situation of scuba divers in Viet Nam who catch sea cucumbers. Some fishers dive as much as five times a day, each dive lasting more than 30 minutes, which leads to serious illness.

Results from experiments testing the influence of commercial diets on Holothuria scabra var. versicolor are reported on by Giraspy et al.

Purcell et al. note that there are no good tags for mark-recapture studies on tropical sea cucumbers. The authors estimate the effectiveness of passive induced transponder (PIT) tags on two species of sea cucumber.

Many abstracts on holothurians have been published recently. Two PhD theses concerning sea cucumbers were defended in 2008, and include “Impact of removal — A case study on the ecological role of the commercially important sea cucumber Holothuria scabra (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) in Moreton Bay, Australia” presented by Svea Mara Wolkenhauer (CSIRO – Australia) and “Characterization, control and optimization of the processes involved in the postmetamorphic development of the edible holothuroid Holothuria scabra (Jaeger, 1833) (Holothuroidea: Echinodermata)” by Thierry Lavitra (University of Mons-Hainaut, Belgium).

Igor Eeckhaut





Sea cucumbers. A global review on fishery and trade
Toral-Granda V. et al. (pdf: 64 KB)
Development of a management plan for Yap's sea cucumber fishery
Friedman K., Ropeti E., Tafileichig A. (pdf: 250 KB)
Fisheries status and management plan for Saudi Arabian sea cucumbers
Hasan M.H. (pdf: 170 KB)
Madagascar Holothurie SA: The first trade company based on sea cucumber aquaculture in Madagascar
Eeckhaut I., Lavitra T., Rasolofonirina R., Rabenevanana M.W., Gildas P., Jangoux M. (pdf: 124 KB)
Processing and marketing of holothurians in the Toliara region, southwestern Madagascar
Lavitra T., Rachelle D., Rasolofonirina R., Jangoux M., Eeckhaut I. (pdf: 389 KB)
Holothurians and other echinoderms of the Glorieuses Islands (Scattered Islands of the Indian Ocean)
Mulochau T., Conand C. (pdf: 345 KB)
The commercial sea cucumber fishery in Turkey
Aydin M. (pdf: 148 KB)
Diving for holothurians in Vietnam: A human and environmental disaster
Ruffez J. (pdf: 118 KB)
The influence of commercial diets on growth and survival in the commercially important sea cucumber Holothuria scabra var. versicolor (Conand, 1986) (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea)
Giraspy D.A.B., Ivy G. (pdf: 178 KB)
Poor retention of passive induced transponder (PIT) tags for mark-recapture studies on tropical sea cucumbers
Purcell S.W., Agudo N., Gossuin H. (pdf: 289 KB)

Abstracts and new publications (pdf: )

Communications and congress announcement (pdf: )

Download the complete publication:

Beche de Mer #28 (pdf: )

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