Chinese market prices of beche-de-mer : implications for fisheries and aquaculture

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Purcell, SW, Williamson, DH & Ngaluafe, P 2018, 'Chinese market prices of beche-de-mer : Implications for fisheries and aquaculture', Marine Policy, vol. 91, pp. 58-65.

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Market prices of seafood underpin harvest and management strategies for fisheries and aquaculture. Beche-de-mer (processed, dried sea cucumbers) are highly valued in Asian markets. Market prices of Pacific Island beche-de-mer were previously reported from data collected in 2011. Recent economic slowdown in China and government austerity policy have dampened demand for certain luxury seafood products. This study presents updated data on prices, and relationships with product size, of beche-de-mer from 24 species of Indo-Pacific sea cucumbers sold in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. Average retail prices were highest in Hong Kong. Prices per individual increased exponentially with increasing beche-de-mer length for three high-value species, Holothuriafuscogilva (white teatfish), H. lessoni (golden sandfish) and H. scabra(sandfish). However, for seven other species, price per unit weight did not relate significantly to product length. Across 20 species, average prices increased by an average of 16.6% from 2011 to 2016, equating to an increase of 2.4% p.a., slightly exceeding China’s average CPI increase over the same period (2.1% p.a.). Products that were traditionally lower value appear more accepted in the marketplace. The analysed relationships offer rationale for large minimum legal size limits to improve the economic performance of fisheries for the high-value species H. fuscogilva, H. lessoni and H. scabra. The disproportionately high prices for larger specimens of these species also challenge a rethink of optimal harvest strategies for aquaculture operations. Lastly, the findings provide evidence of increasing demand and retail prices for these luxury seafood products in an ambiguous market climate.

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