PNG’s National Fisheries Authority eyes better control to sustain beche-de-mer

PORT MORESBY, 08 OCTOBER 2018 (THE NATIONAL) – Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority (NFA) will take more actions to ensure the country has a sustainable beche- de-mer industry, according to managing director John Kasu.

Kasu said these would include restricting exporters, setting benchmark prices for the different species and others.

Kasu made this comment following concern raised by Deputy Prime Minister and Alotau MP Charles Abel in Alotau on Saturday to control the number of exporters of the beche-de-mer fishery.

Abel said: “Beche- de- mer which is one of the biggest industries for my people here in Milne Bay.

“It’s our biggest resource and it is incumbent on you and your board to make sure that resource is managed well into the future.

“The industry must be managed properly.

“Too many licences, not enough control over the total allowable catch (TAC).”

Kasu told The National  that under its old management plan, the authority oversaw most of the concerns raised.

Under the new plan, powers were given to the provinces to execute, he said.

Kasu promised that before the new harvesting season for beche-de-mer began next year, the NFA would have completed all reviews and reverted to the old management plan.

“What is going to happen after this season (ends this month) is that we (NFA) will review the whole thing and go back to the old management plan under which NFA controls all applications,” he said.

“Provinces can recommend but it will be NFA who will do due diligence. “What is happening at the moment (licensing) is that they do that at the provinces and pass the recommendations to us.”

Kasu did not disclose the number of export licenses for beche- de- mer issued by NFA this year but confirmed that “we gave too many licenses (for exporting beche de mer) out”.

“NFA has taken note of some of the concerns,” he said.

“Remittance is also one of the concerns because beche- de- mer is going out but the funds are not coming back into the country.

“We have to also work on the benchmark prices for different species: Sandfish, black teat fish and white teat fish are amongst the higher selling species.”

Information from the NFA showed that, the country earned K50 million (US$153 million) from beche- de- mer exports last year.

About 500,000 people from coastal and island communities are involved in this enterprise.

Kasu said the beche- de- mer from the country is mainly exported to Hong Kong and Singapore.

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