In the last months, sea cucumbers are being caught illegally from Ria Formosa and another areas of Algarve' coast (South Portugal). The Portuguese law in Portaria nº 1228/2010 (6th December; Diario da República, 1ª serie, Nº 235, pp5471), established that only the species registered in Annex I are allowed to be caught. In this Annex I, only 3 sea cucumber species are included: Mesothuria intestinalis and Parastichopus regalis, both species inhabiting deep waters, and Holothuria forskali from shallow waters linked with rocky bottoms. Any of these 3 species are present in Ria Formosa, therefore the registered catches of H. arguinensis and H. mammata in Ria Formosa is illegal.
According this criteria, Policia Maritima is carrying out important actions to confiscate the illegal catches, returning the alive individuals to the sea and take legal actions. During January 2016, they confiscated 200 Kg of H. arguinensis in Ria Formosa, one of these actions registered around 125 Kg, which are valued on 2.500 euros! Nowadays, this species is exported to USA and China with a market value of 150-200 $/kg dried (around 10% wet weight of individuals).
Actions such as this, must be maintained to reduce the illegal catches, but also a new legislation is necessary to a right management of the resource, being mandatory an assessment of the H. arguinensis stocks.
Article published on Barlavento newspaper about the illegal catches of H. arguinensis during the last week.
Policia Marítima returning sea cucumbers to Ria Formosa' waters
MARESMA team is studying the viability of H. arguinensis' aquaculture.
In 2014, our team got the reproduction in captivity of H. arguinensis.