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Illegal catch included protected species

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Radio Tonga News, Aug. 28, 2008) - Police and officers from the Fisheries Department last night confiscated sea cucumbers from the MV Olovaha after it was determined that the individual that brought them via the MV Olovaha did not have a license to fish for sea cucumbers nor to sell them. The fisheries department said the sea cucumbers weighed about 100 kilograms and were fished and dried by the person responsible on Niuatoputapu before bringing it to Tongatapu via the MV Olovaha.

There were 4 different types of sea cucumbers that were contained in the confiscated cargo including a class of sea cucumbers that are still under a fishing ban. The other 3 types that were confiscated were undersized according to the fishing regulations concerning sea cucumbers.

The fisheries department said no individual or company on Niuatoputapu had a license to fish for sea cucumbers.

The Police are now looking for the foreigner who was alleged to have brought in the sea cucumbers.

Meanwhile, the department reveals that the regulations regarding the licensing of all fishermen using fishing nets is yet to come into force while they work on administrative issues.

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