Scaling up community-based sea cucumber culture - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Scaling up community-based sea cucumber culture

Scaling up community-based sea cucumber culture in the Philippines, Vietnam and northern Australia

This project addresses bottlenecks relating to culture and husbandry of sea cucumbers and the development of appropriate governance systems.

The goal is to support increased community-based sea cucumber ‘ranching’ to ultimately provide livelihood opportunities for coastal communities in the Philippines, Vietnam and northern Australia.

  • optimise juvenile production through improved understanding of culture methods and management
  • optimise survival of released juveniles
  • enable diversification of governance systems to better support industry development
  • up-scale the production systems and field testing of alternative ocean production approaches
Addressing technical issues to support sustainable industry growth

Dried sea cucumbers are highly valued in China and SE Asian markets where they can fetch $200-400 per kg. Much of this demand has traditionally been met from sea cucumber fisheries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

These fisheries are vital to coastal community livelihoods. However, over fishing, combined with poor fisheries management, has resulted in severe declines in sea cucumber stocks, fishery closures, and diminished livelihoods.

The potential for sea cucumber mariculture to restore industry prosperity and meet product demand - and the accompanying need for more research - was recognised at the Asia-Pacific Symposium on Sea Cucumber Culture in 2011.

Prior to this project, USC Tropical Aquaculture developed culture methods for sandfish (a valuable tropical sea cucumber species) in Vietnam, the Philippines, northern Australia and PNG.

Regionally, this enables the development of appropriate hatchery and field-culture methods for sea cucumbers, and better site selection knowledge for sea cucumber ranching.

Considerable bottlenecks to scaling up community-based sea cucumber culture have be identified across these countries. Our research will address development bottlenecks and work to maintain the momentum towards large-scale, community-based sea cucumber mariculture.