How Liberians Risk Danger to feed China with Sea-cucumber

Africa is blessed with resources to feed the rest of the world. Whether it is food items or aquatic animals like the sea cucumber, Africa is not relenting to make a business out of it. Sometimes, it can be a dangerous venture into some of the businesses like harvesting sea cucumbers from the sea for a country like China to be fed.

Liberia has a potentially lucrative business in sea cucumbers with Asian countries, including China. However, this comes with a price; danger, and threat to our coastal ecosystem. Fishing for sea cucumber is not what you achieve within the shores of a water world. You have to dive inside to harvest these slimy, sausage-shaped members of the starfish family.

While sea cucumbers have no local market, they are a medicinal ingredient and culinary delicacy in China. When these marine animals are exported to China, they can be sold for up to $6,000 per kilogram. While many people do not know about the existence of sea cucumbers in their waters, a few who know are taking advantage of it.

Most of the divers who harvest these creatures learned the business from Chinese divers who came to Africa to trade these creatures to their people. You need breathing pipes and torches to move at night inside the water.

The breathing pipes are attached to diesel-powered air compressors. The divers move in groups in the night through rocks.

The business is dangerous because the rocks could tear some divers’ wetsuits. Sometimes, they suffer headaches and nosebleeds when they foray into deep water. They spend more time diving and coming out with sea cucumbers until early morning. The risk can cost a kilogram of wet cucumbers $1.75. The more sea cucumbers you catch, the more money you make.

When these creatures are caught and brought to the shores, their innards are released with sharp knives and boiling in a drum over a wood fire. When they are cooled, the people smothered them in salt and dry in the sun. When they are dried and ready for export, the weight of the sea cucumber must have reduced.
Some places have overfished their sea cucumber, forcing them to search for elsewhere for these creatures.

However, since many people have little information about the business, they end up catching the wrong species or size of the stocks.

These creatures help maintain the health of the marine ecosystems. Sea cucumbers act as a filter and eat microalgae, organic matters, and excreting “clean” sand. They maintain the pH and oxygen levels of the water. When more sea cucumbers are taken out, it affects the water system by killing the algae. When algae are taken out, they affect the source of food for some fishes and end up starving the predators. The government of some of the countries where sea cucumbers are harvested are trying to regulate the business to make it safer and more lucrative to the people of the country.

What do you know about these activity? Have you previously heard about it? Let us know what you think?