The Disappearing Of The Sea Farmers
The Holothuroidea, commonly called Sea Cucumber, is a fanny, horrible slag living at the bottom of the sea, in tropical shallow-waters in coral reefs areas. Most of the people ignores their existence but they are fundamental for the maintenance of the see ground, and the maritime ecosystem, a sort of a silent farmworkers of the sea.
The Sea Cucumber is a culinary delicatessen in Asian cuisine, highly appreciated for its soft texture and flavor, as well as a valuable element for pharmaceutical industry and for traditional medicine. Dried tropical species can be sold between US$10 and US$600 per kilo.
Several species of Sea Cucumber have been included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A study published on “Proceeding of Biological Sciences of The Royal Society” shows that the extinction risk of Sea Cucumber is not following the pattern of Bluefin Tuna or Sturgeon where the increasing rarity makes them valuable increasing the extinction risk. For Sea Cucumbers their high value drives intense exploitation making common species rare.
Sea Cucumbers are usually retrieved by diving. In Mozambique, where the Sea Cucumber fishing is legal, most of the animals are retrieved in the North of the country and in the area of Ilha de Mozambique. The divers collect Sea Cucumber and sell them to an intermediate businessman (most of the time Mozambican) that dry them to be sold in Nacala and in Tanzania to Asian buyers that will export the fish to the Asian Region. According to a Mozambican businessman working with Sea Cucumber, the price of a high quality Sea Cucumber fished in the Ilha de Mozambique is about US$70 per kilo.
A local fisherman from Ilha de Mozambique remembered that until 2014/2015, when the tie was low, Sea Cucumbers where everywhere. Today they can be found only where the sea is at least 2 meters deep, and still the divers always come back with a very poor catch.