Sea cucumber manual global success story for Southern Cross Uni researcher

Dr Steven Purcell

A Southern Cross University manual for postharvest processing of small-scale fishery products is now available in eight languages.

If you’ve ever seen a sea cucumber lying on the shallow ocean floor, you’d quickly recognise the marine animal’s elongated body and leathery skin.

What you may not know is many fishing communities have been harvesting sea cucumbers for hundreds of years, and they provide income to around 3 million fishers globally.

Southern Cross University’s Dr Steven Purcell has been working as a marine scientist for more than 20 years. While finishing a study in WA on the repopulation of large marine snails, called trochus, an opportunity arose to work with sea cucumbers in the Pacific Islands.

He realised there was a much bigger story behind the sea cucumber trade globally, and began working with fishing communities across the Pacific to understand their processing practices.

In 2014 he authored a sea cucumber fishery processing manual funded by ACIAR – the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. His research team worked in collaboration with government fishery ministries in Kiribati, Tonga and Fiji to develop a highly successful training program including manuals, videos and workshops held in more than 80 villages to build capacity within fishing communities.

Since its launch, the manual has been a huge success with artisanal fishers in multiple countries, and translations into French, Fijian, Arabic, Kiribati and Tongan.

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