ILLEGAL SEA CUCUMBER EXPORTS ALLEGED IN PALAU

admin's picture

Reef delicacy harvested, shipped without permit

By Heide E. Vinoya MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Nov. 8, 2010) – In Palau, three lady Governors of Aimeliik, Airai and Ngchesar States wrote a letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) asking to stop the current illegal trade and exportation of sea cucumbers by a company known as Palau Sea Cucumber Hatchery Farm (PSCHF) owned by Anatanio Kikou.

[PIR editor’s note: Aimeliik is an administrative division located on the southwest of Babeldaob Island. Airai lies on the southern side and Ngchesar on the eastern side of Babeldaob Island in Palau.]

In a four-page letter to Minister Harry Fritz, the three Governors asked the Minister to revoke immediately the export permit PSCHG and requested to investigate the illegal harvesting and exportation activities by the farm.

In their letter, Gov. Leilani Reklai of Aimeliik, Vicky Kanai of Airai and Romana Anastacio of Ngchesar States said that on Jan. 19 2010, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism gave PSCHF a permit to collect "marine resources" in their states for aquaria and research purposes. However, this was not true. The letter also said that over the past several months, the PSCHF has been "commercially harvesting and taking non-cultured sea cucumbers in the States of Aimeliik, Airai and Ngchesar without valid state permits.

Records indicate that several thousand pounds of non-cultured sea cucumbers have been illegally harvested and taken by PSCHF or its agents and employees and exported to other countries for commercial purposes in violation of Marine Protection Act of 1994.

The letter further states that if the MNRET policy allows commercial exportation of sea cucumbers, then the law must be amended to allow such exportation and to include all other states and not just the three states.

This issue was also discussed during the Governors’ Association (GA) meeting on November 2.

In an interview, GA chairman and Koror State Gov. Yositaka Adachi said the association agreed to have the same letter addressed to the Minister.

Adachi said he is now working with his legal counsel to formulate the letter.

"The association letter was simply to ask the Minister to make everything good. Let’s discuss if the concept is good and the business is good. Then let’s do it right so that the benefits will spread to every citizen of the States," Adachi said in an interview.

Adachi said based on the permit issued by MNRET, only two species of cucumber are allowed to be harvested for research and culture. However, the PSCHF harvested more species including the baklungal, temtamel, delal a molech, esobel and molech which are prohibited for culture as well.

It can be recalled that last month, Customs personnel confiscated sea cucumber intended for export at the airport.

Reklai said Customs personnel were supposed to meet with her as regards to the incident, but the meeting did not push through.

The Division of Customs, Bureau of Marine Resources and even the office of the Vice-president refused to comment or give details on the incident.

Reklai explained that currently there is no permit that allows the collection of sea cucumbers for export and there is neither a designated farm for sea cucumber.

The permit released by the MNRET is for research only and the total weight of collected sea cucumbers allowed for research purposes is 150 pounds, but reportedly there are certain individuals who were able to send abroad over three tons of dried sea cucumber

Rate this article: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Add new comment