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Comanaging small-scale sea cucumber fisheries in New Caledonia and Vanuatu using stock biomass estimates to set spatial catch quotas

  • M. LÉOPOLD (a1) (a2), N. CORNUET (a3), S. ANDRÉFOUËT (a1), Z. MOENTEAPO (a3), C. DUVAUCHELLE (a1), J. RAUBANI (a2), J. HAM (a2) and P. DUMAS (a1) (a2)...


Many sea cucumber fisheries have dramatically declined worldwide due to rapid overexploitation and ineffective management. This study designed an innovative management strategy for small-scale, data-limited sea cucumber fisheries in Pacific Island countries. Firstly, a local quota-based comanagement system was implemented in New Caledonia to manage a small-scale sandfish Holothuria scabra fishery. A habitat map derived from high-resolution satellite imagery was used to stratify survey sampling and assess the harvestable stock biomass. The latter has been monitored as the reference biomass (RB) since 2008 and repeatedly used by the local fishers’ organization and Fisheries Department officers to set adaptive total allowable catches and regulations of fishing effort. Results showed the excellent performance of this fishery between 2008 and 2012, both biologically (167% increase in total stock biomass) and economically (146% increase in annual returns from catches). Secondly, the assessment of the RB was generalized to multispecies sea cucumber fisheries in Vanuatu in 2011 before the proposed lifting of a five-year national moratorium. Building upon these practical case studies in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, this paper outlines an operational framework to inform sea cucumber fisheries policy in these two countries and discusses the upscaling of the proposed management strategy.


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*Correspondence: Dr M. Léopold e-mail:


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Comanaging small-scale sea cucumber fisheries in New Caledonia and Vanuatu using stock biomass estimates to set spatial catch quotas

  • M. LÉOPOLD (a1) (a2), N. CORNUET (a3), S. ANDRÉFOUËT (a1), Z. MOENTEAPO (a3), C. DUVAUCHELLE (a1), J. RAUBANI (a2), J. HAM (a2) and P. DUMAS (a1) (a2)...


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