- Commercial species of shallow-water, tropical, aspidochirotid sea cucumbers (bêche-de-mer) in the Indo-West Pacific, many of them, at maturity, large and conspicuous benthic members of coral reef or seagrass/sediment environments, represent a high-value marine resource, traditionally fished for centuries, but which currently are being heavily overfished, largely through a growing demand from mainland China and regional markets in the supply chain.
- Population losses are exemplified by a study at Bunaken National Marine Park, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, where densities of commercial sea cucumber species are very low following earlier harvesting and where drop-out of species records has occurred over a 17-year study period.
- Sea cucumber populations have not recovered from overexploitative depredations despite the designation of this area as a National Marine Park in 1991 and the commencement of protection measures.
- This pattern of overexploitation, replicated across the tropical Indo-Pacific, has detrimental implications for many coastal communities traditionally or currently dependent on this high-value resource.
- In addition there are potentially serious implications of overharvesting – reviewed here – for reef ecosystem resilience.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.