Palau’s Bureau of Marine Resource Recommends Ending Trochus Harvesting

Survey reveals stocks of sea snails are below sustainable level and declining 

By L. N. Reklai  

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, June 20, 2016) – Findings from a trochus (semum) stock survey conducted by Bureau of Marine Resource (BMR) and Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) show  that the number of trochus stocks in 121 sites surveyed all over Palau, are below recommended levels for harvesting.

9th OEK had requested BMR to conduct a survey in order for them to decide whether or not to open a trochus harvesting season.  Trochus harvesting is always close unless OEK opens it by Resolution and that resolution is dependent on the BMR survey report.

According to previous studies conducted in the Pacific, the recommended level of trochus stock for harvesting is 600-800 pieces per hectare, an area size of Asahi Ball Field. The recent stock assessment was conducted from March 21 to April 29 in 121 sites, (chelemoll and bkul a chelemoll) and the stock level was at 281 pieces of trochus per hectare.

Trend shows that trochus stock levels have been going down. In 1956, a study showed the trochus population in Palau was about 600-800 per hectare. In 2002, the population was 961 per hectare and in 2010, the trochus population was 341 trochus per hectare.  This year, it is at 281 per hectare. Every year the population density decreases.

Trochus (Semum) is harvested because its shell can be used for a number of things like making buttons, jewelry, and other handicrafts. It also has been historically harvested in many Pacific Islands, including Palau.

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