Postharvest processing of sea cucumbers in Fiji
Purcell, SW & Lalavanua, W 2017, 'Postharvest processing of sea cucumbers in Fiji', in S Mangubhai, W Lalavanua & SW Purcell (eds) Fiji's sea cucumber fishery: advances in science for improved management Report no. 01/17, Wildlife Conservation Society, Suva, Fiji, pp. 30-37. ISBN: 0982026307
Proper postharvest processing methods will yield export-quality bêche-de-mer and, potentially, higher prices for fishers. We conducted interview-based surveys of sea cucumber fishers in multiple villages within eight locations in Fiji. From 0–71% of fishers practised postharvest processing of their catch, depending on location. Information sources about processing methods were largely absent. Poor handling methods in the boat were sometimes used, and some fishers used incorrect techniques for cutting and cooking sea cucumbers. Investment in time by fishers to process their catch also varied among locations. A new training manual, training video and village workshops have built capacity among fishers in postharvest processing methods. The new information tools give hope for higher sale prices and reduced wastage. Further support is needed in Fiji to train fishers in villages not involved in this project. Despite improved knowledge, many fishers experienced problems in accessing coarse salt for processing and getting fair prices by middlemen. To improve income to fishers in the industry, actions are needed to help fishers to access coarse salt and to develop and implement industry standards on the prices fishers should expect to receive for different grades of bêche-de-mer.