The House of Delegates (HOD) is urging President Surangel Whipps Jr, to look into the commercial viability of sea cucumber harvest, which has remained on moratorium since 2011.
In House Joint Resolution No. 11-28-6, members of the HOD said the impact of COVID-19 on Palau has exposed the country’s economic vulnerabilities and that the potential of sea cucumber harvesting could provide the needed food security.
The resolution, which has been transmitted to the Senate for adoption, “respectfully requests his Excellency, Surangel Whipps Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Environment assesses the viability of harvesting sea cucumber at a sustainable level as a means to improve food security and derive economic benefits from its commercial exports.”
HOD cited the boom of 2011, where there was a high demand for sea cucumber, yielding close to 1.2 million kilograms of sea cucumber in just 48 days and amounting to over $1.3 million in revenues.
Sea cucumbers are locally consumed as a delicacy but fear of overfishing for exports has prompted the government to limit sea cucumber harvesting.
The 2011 incident, the HOD said, also demonstrated the need for regulation to enable sustainable harvesting.
HOD has acknowledged in the resolution that while the seafood trade can cause ‘social and negative, social and environmental impacts,” if done sustainably can be sure of economic development for the country.