Journal Issue Volume 29 Issue 2 Status of Sea Cucumber Fisheries in Mindanao: Harnessing Local...

Research Article

Status of Sea Cucumber Fisheries in Mindanao: Harnessing Local Knowledge in Determining Diversity and Production Values

Elgen M. Arriesgado1,2, ORCID logo Asuncion B. De Guzman5, Josuah D. Zalsos2, Jomar F. Besoña1,2, Leemarc C. Alia2,3, Flordeline A. Cadeliña2,4, Maria Lyn Magcanta-Mortos2, Wilfredo H. Uy2,4,5

1 School of Marine Fisheries and Technology
2 Sea cucumber Research and Development Center
3 College of Education and Social Sciences
4 College of Marine and Allied Sciences, Mindanao State University at Naawan, Pedro Pagalan St., Poblacion, Naawan, Misamis Oriental 9023 Philippines
5 Mindanao State University at Naawan Foundation for Science and Technology Development Incorporated, Pedro Pagalan St., Poblacion, Naawan, Misamis Oriental 9023 Philippines

Page 161-175 | Received 15 Feb 2022, Accepted 12 Oct 2022


Sea cucumber fishery is a significant livelihood in the Philippines; however, overexploitation and inadequate management programs resulted in the decline of various sea cucumber species. This paper describes the current sea cucumber fisheries across 32 municipalities in Mindanao assessed from August 2019 to January 2020 through key informant surveys (KIS) and focus group discussions (FGD). About 47 sea cucumbers were identified from KIS, mostly for export. The high-value Holothuria scabra is the most exploited species across Mindanao, but the top catches are mainly composed of low to medium-value species. At least four sea cucumber species were noted by gatherers to have disappeared from some sites during the KIS. The FGDs showed that the sea cucumber fishery is small-scale, involving about 1,922 gatherers from 10 municipalities. Half of them (56%) engage in full-time sea cucumber gathering and employ various methods depending on the location of their collection grounds. Estimates of mean daily sea cucumber catch ranged from 1–7.3 kg-1 gatherer-1 day-1, with the highest catch in Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay, and lowest in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental. Catch per unit effort ranged from 0.2-1.8 kg-1 gatherer-1 day-1, with the highest catch rate in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur, and lowest in Laguindingan. Gatherers often sold their catches as fresh to consolidators or traders. Net incomes from the combined fresh catches ranged from PHP 70–950, with the highest income in Olutanga and the lowest in Laguindingan. Historical trendlines show decreasing catches in all sites over time. Overall, the sea cucumber fishery in Mindanao is rapidly declining and needs urgent management interventions to sustain stocks and livelihoods.

Keywords: holothurians, focus group discussion, key informant interview, local extirpation, fisheries management