Government’s decision to lift the ban on beche-de-mer (BDM) this week is interesting. The lifting of the ban had been reported not to go down well with those at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. However SBM understands that the lifting of the ban was a directive from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPMC).
Ministry of Fisheries officials were reported to have been unwilling to give their stamp of approval on the lifting of the ban, as there was no strong evidence to suggest that bech-de-mer had fully recovered from the last harvest – just two years ago.
Unlike some of our marine resources, sea-cucumber is the most sought after and also the most controversial of all. The history of BDM in the country is taunted with dirty money, politics and unfair trading. Only weeks ago, a Chinese businessman in Auki was arrested for purchasing BDM whilst it was still banned. It is not clear what’s going to those detained BDM that were harvest during the “ban period”.
Whilst we are powerless to the government’s decision, it is incumbent on the state to ensure that there is sustainability in the harvesting period. We all know that Solomon Islanders will be enticed by the million dollars waiting on the surface for them and they would do all they could to grasp the opportunity.
As much as they have all the right to harvest their resources they must also be mindful of the important need to save for the future. Very often we are tempted by the attractive cash in return for our BDM that we also forget about the future.
On that note, it is important that our people are given the best price for their products and those trading cash for BDM must not cheat on our people’s frantic desire just to sell their marine resources. Given the high demand for our BDM, resource owners must negotiate the best price in return for their products. In doing so, they must not forget to save for the future.