Letter to the Editor - Sea Cucumber Harvest

Dear Editor:
I write this letter to you and a copy to our Public Information Officer in the hopes that it clarifies some of the misleading issues circulating in Pohnpei and on the internet regarding the so called sea cucumber harvest. This is a heated issue triggering several protests in the Capital and elsewhere in Pohnpei. And as the event of the sea cucumber commenced, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was filed at the FSM Supreme Court and ultimately was granted. It was extremely unprecedented for the two to happen simultaneously.
The uproar led to the posting on the internet the tallied sheet form used by the Legislative Clerk Division showing the actual vote made by each senator on the subject of sea cucumber. This was the bill on sea cucumber that senators voted upon making it became a law. What the general public and readers did not understand was the intent and purpose of the law thereby making misleading conversations and comments.

The perception by the community in general towards sea cucumber is nothing more than a few of the species of sea cucumber is part of the local diet. Several years back, our communities became aware of the monetary values when foreign businessmen came to buy these sea creatures. Yes, of course, it assisted a lot of Pohnpeians to make ends meet and at the same time contributing to our tax base and the overall economy of Pohnpei. On the other hand, sea cucumbers feed on unwanted sediments and detritus (debris) to make our ocean alive and healthy. For this important reason, we could not overlook the ecological functions that sea cucumbers provide to our environment mainly to our ocean. If we did not do anything about it, it would have an undesirable consequence to the future generations of Pohnpei--our children and their children and on and on.
To clarify the issue so it becomes plainly understandable and crystal clear to the public and internet users, the intent and purpose of the law on sea cucumber which the tallied sheet showed the vote of a particular senator prohibited or banned sea cucumber harvesting in the waters of Pohnpei state. Those voted “yes” wanted the closure. The only exception for a sea cucumber harvest to take place as provided in the law is when a comprehensive study or assessment is made indicating it is sustainable to do so.
The reason for the protests and the filing of the TRO with the current sea cucumber harvest was that an assessment recently conducted by a professor of the University of Guam reveals that sea cucumber harvesting is not recommended to take place at this time.
I still stand firm in the action of the Pohnpei Legislature as its action helps to balance the social, economic and ecosystem of fisheries so that the future generations can also have what their ocean during their time provides to them.
I hope this letter clarifies the misleading issues.
Ausen T. Lambert
Xc: Mr. Salter Lohn, Public Information Officer

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