Bougainville have been told to use and invest the money they will get from selling beche-de-mer wisely.

More particularly, the people of the Bougainville Atolls who use the sea as their “gold mine” by harvesting and selling marine resources.

The beche-de-mer season is now open and a lot of people have already applied for licences.

About five exporters and their buyers are standing by and they will begin operations soon.

A concerned youth from Tasman Island (Nukumanu), raised the concern.

Tasman is the furthest island among the atolls, apart from Mortlock Island.

Both these islands are only accessible by ship and sea planes.

Jackson Tehatu said since the moratorium was imposed the sea cucumbers had grown and produced widely and there is a lot of it in the ocean now.

“This thing is now worth millions and our people will soon harvest it.” Tehatu said.

“A lot of buyers are Asians and they do not care and respect our country’s tax system and we will all miss out because the government that caters for us will not benefit.

“Most of these Asian buyers give out cash to islanders and villagers, and most of these villages do not have bank accounts and their money will just be misused.

“I have told a lot of my fellow islanders that their money will be kept safe if they deposit it into the bank and just withdraw from time to time

“In the last harvest season, a lot of our islanders who harvested sea cucumber were robbed. It is very risky for millions to float around in island communities.”

Tehatu said the government needs to be very careful when inviting investors into the region, because a lot don’t comply with regulations.

Speaking to this paper recently about the harvest season, National Fisheries Authority managing director John Kasu indicated stricter enforcement measures would be taken by NFA to ensure the season is not abused.

Highlighting exporters will now be scrutinised closely to ensure their partnership ventures by foreigners with locals for licenses will ensure remittances from the proceeds of exports make their way back into the country.

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