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|Sea cucumber management changes take effect June 11
A commercial daily trip and vessel limit of 200 sea cucumbers will go into effect June 11 in
state and federal waters off Florida.
This change was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
at its April meeting near Tallahassee.
While there is currently a small commercial fishery for sea cucumbers in Florida, primarily for
the live aquarium trade, sea cucumbers have been commonly targeted elsewhere in the
world as a food product, often because of their high value in Asian markets. Rapid,
unregulated development of sea cucumber export fisheries to support this market has led to
fishery collapses and sea cucumber depletions elsewhere in the world.
Sea cucumbers are vulnerable to overfishing because they are easy to locate and collect,
and because of their life-history characteristics such as their late reproductive age, their need
for a dense population in order to successfully reproduce and their long life span. They are
also ecologically important, as they help cycle nutrients in sea grass communities and
nutrient-poor tropical reefs and oxygenate sediments.
This proactive change to the commercial fishing regulations will ensure Florida’s
populations of these ecologically important species and the fisheries they support remain
Commercial harvesters are required to have a Saltwater Products License (Florida’s
commercial saltwater fishing license), a Restricted Species Endorsement and a Marine Life
Endorsement in order to harvest sea cucumbers for the aquarium or food-fish trades.