Mar 23, 2019 | Updated: 12:48 PM EDT

Sea Cucumber Popularity As Seafood Delicacy Threatens Coastal Community, UBC Study Reveals

Jun 02, 2017 11:37 AM EDT

Sea cucumber for sale in the Chinatown Complex Wet Market in Singapore.
Sea cucumber for sale in the Chinatown Complex Wet Market in Singapore.

The increasing demand for sea cucumber as a seafood delicacy all over the world has threatened the coastal communities, according to the study from the University of British Columbia. This sea cucumber popularity has made the local resources to deplete rapidly.

Sea cucumber popularity as seafood delicacy in the world has affected the coastal community in term of socially and ecologically. The price of sea cucumber, which reaches hundreds to thousands of dollars a pound, has driven fishermen to focus their fishing activity on this sea creature for monetary gain.

A researcher from the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Maery Kaplan-Hallam was intrigued to study the impact of the increasing sea cucumber popularity to the coastal community. According to the media release from the UBC, the research has found that the sea cucumber popularity as a delicacy has negative effects on the coastal community.

“For many coastal communities, sea cucumber isn’t something that was harvested in the past," Kaplan-Hallam said to explain the impact of sea cucumber popularity to the coastal communities. "Money, buyers and fishers from outside the community flooded in. This has also increased pressure on other already overfished resources.”

Kapplan-Hallam and her co-authors, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC, Nathan Bennett and their professor, Terre Satterfield have published their finding in the Global Environmental Change journal, published by Elsevier. They studied the fishing community of Río Lagartos, situated in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The community was a small-scale commercial fishing community for 50 years before the commercial sea cucumbers arrived in 2013 and the local fishermen knew the sea cucumber popularity

Since then, with the increase of financial and economic opportunity has changed the entire community rapidly as outside fishers, money, and patrons came into the area. As a famous delicacy in Asia, sea cucumber has been domesticated for years. 

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