MFMR sends out a warning that they will not tolerate illegal harvesting of bech-de-mer.

Half a tonne of bech-de-mer (BDM) products confiscated from both individuals and Chinese companies were burnt to ashes by the Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources (MFMR) Compliance team, Thursday.

Director of Fisheries, Eddie Honiwala said the decision to burn the bech-de-mer products was made after they received the green light from the Attorney General’s Chambers

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) is sending out a clear warning that we will not tolerate illegal harvesting of our bech-de-mer.

“The prohibition order made under Section 22 of the Fisheries Management Act 2015 is very clear about this,” Honiwala told journalists.

Under the Prohibition Order, fishing or possession of any species of bech-de-mer from fisheries waters is prohibited which was effective from 31 May 2019.

Export of any species of BDM is also prohibited effective from 30 June 2019.

Honiwala said the prohibition and the closure of the BDM fishery, no one is allowed to fish or have in their possession of export any species of BDM.

Solomon Star understands most of the BDM products burnt were confiscated from individuals mostly from the Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) and a few Chinese businessmen.

The estimated value of the confiscated BDM would likely be millions of dollars.

Honiwala confirmed that between 2020 and 2021 more than 550 kg of different species of BDM were confiscated from both individuals and companies.

“Data from the confiscated products showed that about 68% were of under sizes or have not reached mature sizes when harvested. Only about 32% have reached the legal sizes,” he added.

“This is clear indication that over-fishing/harvesting is occurring and the BDM stocks have been heavily exploited,” he added.

The trend over the years also showed the followings

• Majority of the exported BDM products are of low value species in the last two recent openings.

• Strong evidence that majority of the BDM products exported in the last two recent openings were of under sizes.

Honiwala said BDM stocks are now fished down and if this continues, these fisheries will collapse soon.

“We don’t want to drive this important fishery down that path.

“The ban or closure period is to give the BDM stocks time to recover. With the current level of the over-fishing and low density around the country the closure period should longer than five years,” he added.

Meanwhile the Permanent Secretary for MFMR Dr Christain Ramofafia emphasised that continued illegal harvesting will not do any good to the BDM stocks, or to our communities.

“But it will drive this important Fishery to a level where we will no longer have any BDM fishery to enjoy today.

“So the strong advice for everyone is to please refrain from illegal harvesting as any BDM products confiscated from you will be destroyed,” Dr Ramofafia said.

Solomon Star newspaper understands that places like the MOI depend very much on bech-de-mer for their survival.

But Honiwala said that “we just have to follow our laws concerning this million-dollar marine product.”

This story was published by the Solomon Star on 18 June 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.

Banner: Illegally harvested bech-de-mer from individuals and companies being destroyed. Photo: MFMR Communication Office

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