Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Grow-your-own sea cucumbers

Sea cucumbers have a high market value both as a food and a medicine in China and other parts of Asia. These sausage-shaped marine invertebrates have for centuries been collected in the shallow waters of the Pacific and South-East Asia. However, overexploitation in recent decades has left wild populations of sea cucumbers greatly depleted.

Since wild sea cucumbers have become hard to come by, there has been a growing interest in producing them using aquaculture techniques.

A new ACIAR publication, ‘Asia-Pacifictropical sea cucumber aquaculture’, brings together the Proceedings of a symposium held in New Caledonia last year, organised by ACIAR, together with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The publication includes a wealth of new research on aquaculture techniques, as well as reviewing hatchery production, sea-ranching, export markets and tenure issues. 

It is hoped that the publication of these Proceedings will encourage collaboration and technology transfer so that sea cucumber aquaculture can deliver real benefits to poor rural communities.

The publication covers in vitro fertilisation methods, pond culture and hatchery technologies. In addition, a number of sea-ranching projects are reviewed in northern Australia, the Philippines, the Maldives, Madagascar and Fiji.

There is growing international demand for high-value sea cucumber products, with the largest markets currently located in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and New York. An historical review of those markets notes they each have their own preference for different sea cucumber species, and that this should be taken into account in any resource management planning.

Authors: Cathy A. Hair, Timothy D. Pickering and David J. Mills (eds)

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