Title

Variation in postharvest processing of sea cucumbers by fishers and commercial processors among three Pacific Island countries

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Purcell, SW, Ngaluafe, P, Aram, KT & Lalavanua, W 2016, 'Variation in postharvest processing of sea cucumbers by fishers and commercial processors among three Pacific Island countries', Beche-de-mer: Information Bulletin, vol. 36, pp. 58-66.

Abstract

The value of beche-de-mer exported from small-scale sea cucumber fisheries throughout the world depends partly on the postharvest processing methods used by fishers or commercial processors. Development programmes to help fishers in value adding need to understand current processing practices. We used questionnaire data to evaluate postharvest processing of sea cucumbers, and compared methods between fishers and commercial processors in Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga. Most fishers in Kiribati, and a minority of Fijian and Tongan fishers, process their sea cucumbers. Few fishers had received training or information on processing methods. The placement of the cut to gut sea cucumbers varied widely, especially among fishers. I-Kiribati fishers salted sea cucumbers for the least number of days. Coconut husks were mostly used in Kiribati as the fuel to heat water for cooking sea cucumbers, whereas wood was mostly used in Fiji and Tonga. Fishers practiced a second cooking less frequently than commercial processors. Smoke curing was not practiced in Tonga, owing to traditional practices, but was done frequently in Kiribati and Fiji. Fijian fishers invested the least amount of time in processing. We found few women fishers in Kiribati but they were often involved in processing. In both Fiji and Kiribati, other family members were frequently engaged in processing. We show that poor processing methods were often used by fishers. Our study reveals that postharvest processing cannot be generalised among countries, and a holistic view of the role of women and children in fisheries should examine more than just their involvement in fishing.