The Dilemma of Mexico's Sea Cucumbers
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April 26, 2014

Correspondent John Holman travels to the Yucatan to investigate the secret operation and slippery business of harvesting sea cucumbers. (CCTV America)

An indefinite ban on the fishing of sea cucumbers is creating quite a ruckus in Mexico.  Although sea cucumbers are barely consumed in Mexico, high demand in China fueled overfishing of the sea cucumbers in Yucatán waters and has greatly depleted the sea cucumber population in the area.  Overfishing in Asian and Pacific waters has already decimated the sea cucumber populations in these regions.

Since 2009, of the 20,000 tons of sea cucumbers available, only an estimated 1,900 tons of these marine animals are left according the secretary of rural development in Quintana Roo State, Felipe Cervera.  In order to give the sea cucumber populations a chance to recover, an indefinite ban on sea cucumber fishing was issued in Mexico.  The ban was meant to be beneficial and allow the Mexican waters’ ecosystems a chance to recover, but because of the lack of enforcement, the ban is actually having the reverse effect.

Fishing of the sea cucumbers continues to occur in high numbers in Mexico and the sea cucumber black market is thriving.  Many of the fishermen in Mexico have no other means to earn a living, so they continue to fish the depleted sea cucumber populations and sell them to middlemen who transport the sea cucumbers to China.  One pound of sea cucumbers can sell for as much as $300.

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