Finned shark 

MAJURO — Escalating worry about illegal shark fin and sea cucumber exports prompted the Marshall Islands to ban trade in both marine products on Wednesday this week.
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph announced Wednesday a moratorium on the trade in and export of shark fins and sea cucumbers following reports of expanding illegal export operations in the Marshall Islands.  
The fisheries department’s board of directors voted to place a moratorium on the trade of these two marine products until new procedures are in place to regulate them effectively, Joseph said.
“No one is registered and authorized to fish for sharks, but there are substantive reports that it is happening,” Joseph said.
Sea Cucumbers drying out
The same situation is occurring with sea cucumbers, he said. “Any company involved is required to register and get authorization from the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority to export sea cucumbers,” Joseph said. But MIMRA officials recently discovered a half-full container loaded with sea cucumbers waiting for export. “We fined the company $10,000 for violating the law,” Joseph said.
In the mid-2000s, the Marshall Islands licensed shark fishing, but after two years, the company fishing for sharks called it quits. According to fisheries officials, many local fishermen sell shark fins to Majuro-based companies for export to Asia. But Joseph said he hopes the new moratorium will shut this down.
The problem with Marshall Islands law relating to marine products is that there are no specifics for regulating the harvest of sea cucumbers, Joseph said. Key issues such as the size that can be harvested and periods during which harvesting is allowed are not spelled out.
“So MIMRA has instituted a moratorium on sea cucumber trade until we develop a management plan,” Joseph said.
Experts from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community are visiting Majuro next week to work with MIMRA on developing a national sea cucumber plan.
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