Increasing technical skills for sea cucumber production in Vietnam and the Philippines - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Increasing technical skills for sea cucumber production in Vietnam and the Philippines

Led by Professor Paul Southgate, this project aims to further develop technical skills and the reliability of culture methods in order to increase production capacity and the expansion of community-based and private sector sea cucumber farming in the Philippines and Vietnam.

It follows on from several ACIAR-funded projects that made significant progress towards developing commercial-scale hatchery and grow-out technologies for sandfish (Holothuria scabra), a high-value tropical sea cucumber species.

  • optimise and standardise hatchery production strategy for sandfish
  • optimise productivity of juvenile culture systems
  • refine pond culture methods and investigate co-culture potential in Vietnam
  • develop strategies to improve livelihood outcomes through sandfish culture
Mariculture set to provide significant livelihood opportunities

Dried sea cucumbers (aka beche-de-mer) are highly valued in Chinese and South-East Asian markets where they can fetch A$200-A$400 per kg. Much of this demand is met from sea cucumber fisheries by coastal fishing communities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

However, overfishing in many parts of the tropics, combined with poor fisheries management, has resulted in severe declines in sea cucumber stocks, and in some cases fishery closures causing major impacts on local livelihoods.

The introduction of sea cucumber mariculture offers significant income-generation opportunities for coastal communities throughout South-East Asia and the central Pacific.

Recent ACIAR projects in Vietnam and the Philippines developed culture methods for sandfish with broad regional relevance, focussing on the development of appropriate hatchery and field culture methods, including a greater understanding of site selection factors for sandfish ranching.

Ultimately, this project aims to increase technical skills, further refine culture methods and tackle major bottlenecks in order to take commercial sea cucumber production to the next level and improve livelihood opportunities.