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Call in Tonga for new ban on taking sea cucumbers

The head of Aquaculture Research in Tonga, Poasi Ngaluafe, says he would like to see the harvesting of sea cucumber banned again because of overfishing.Poasi Ngaluafe says a 10-year moratorium allowed sea-cucumber levels to recover in Tonga, but once lifted in 2008, people failed to harvest them sustainably.He says while levels were replenished, they never recovered enough for sustainable, commercial use.Mr Ngaluafe says a ban put in place last year was lifted following political and community pressure. “We need to ban commercial fishing, because the resource have declined, overfished. Based on the export production, 2009 and 10, it was big, about 300 tonnes, come down to 2011 and 12, it’s less that 100 tonnes. The same effort, the same fishing period, but less production, that’s why we propose to recommend to the cabinet to close for another couple of years.”Poasi Ngaluafe says illegal fishing is also a problem, and deaths related to illegal diving have not put people off from doing it.