Fijian authorities have endorsed nine companies to purchase and export beche-de-mer during the lifting of the ban period that started Friday 1 July ending on 31 October.
The companies, four of which are known traders of the seafood delicacy in Fiji in Amigo Trading Pte Ltd, Flysha Fiji Ltd, Best Seafood Ltd, and Gold Hold Pte Limited and Great North Seafod Pte Ltd, will also set the prices they will buy at based on sizes and measurements prescribed by authorities.
The other five are Cukumotu Ba Investment Pte Ltd, Matarisiga Investment/Yaloyalo Production, Jacks Farm Pte Ltd, Pacific Heart Noni Biotechnology Pte Ltd and Nadi Mariculture Pte Ltd.
Chair of the Licensing Committee on Beche-De-Mer and Permanent Secretary for Trade Shaheen Ali said the nine were chosen from 29 applicants which were assessed against two criteria one of which is their good standing “whether they are good corporate citizens” and in particular their sustainability plans.
“In their proposal, they have to give us their vision as to how they will align their exporting activities, commercial activities, as to what the ministry strategies are as far sustainable development so they had to look at ministry’s strategic plan and our national development plan, and also how they can help or work with government to also go into aquaculture,” Ali said.
Ali said the assessment is based on the need to ensure resource owners benefit from the lifting of the ban whilst protecting marine resources, which aligns with the conditions that were attached to the lifting of the ban such as the species of beche-de-mer to be bought only from licensed resource owners and landing sites approved by the Ministry of Fisheries.
“We have also ensured mechanisms where buyers provide us photo identification of their staff so that these are disseminated in communities and they too are aware of the approved buyers and companies.”
Holothurians or Sea Cucumbers are strictly restricted to these nine entities only. All exports will cease on 1 November 2022. The Ministry of Fisheries will issue special conditions for trade to the approved entities as part of its controlled and sustainability approach.
Permanent Secretary Fisheries Pene Baleinaibuli said that since Friday 1 July when the ban was lifted, they has not been any report stemming from noncompliance.
There has been however a lot of interest, he said from resource owners looking to acquire a license to partake in the harvest.