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Assessment of sea cucumber populations from the Aegean Sea (Turkey): First insights to sustainable management of new fisheries

March 18, 2014

Sea cucumber stocks have been overfished in many countries. As a consequence, several species (Holothuria poliiHolothuria tubulosa and Holothuria mammata) are now caught in Turkish waters without adequate knowledge on their biology and ecology. Here, we address their morphometry, relationships among gutted length and weight, population dynamics, temporal evolution of catches, and we provide the first insights about technical aspects of their fisheries. The largest size classes of H. polii are missing from our sampling collection, possibly due to the heavy fishery pressure on this species. Significant differences in the eviscerated length and weight were found among the Turkish sampled localities for H. polii andH. tubulosa, respectively. These differences could be explained by higher food availability in some areas and/or differential fishery pressure. The size and weight of H. tubulosa specimens were smaller than those registered for the same species in Greek waters, where this species is not fished. All the studied species showed allometric growth. In the last two years, the sea cucumber fishery in Turkey has been increasing rapidly, reaching a total production of ca. 555 000 kg in 2012 (80% H. polii and 20% H. tubulosa plusH. mammata). For a correct management of these species, we recommend: 1) the re-establishment of species-specific closed fishery season according to the specific reproductive cycle; 2) the assessment of the exploited stocks from the Northern Turkish coasts with estimates of recovery time of their populations; 3) the reduction of fishery efforts, mainly on H. polii and H. tubulosa and 4) the establishment of protected areas (where sea cucumber fisheries are forbidden) to conserve healthy populations which will favour the recruitment on nearby areas.

  •  González-Wangüemert M, 
  •  Aydin M, 
  •  Conand C, 2014: Assessment of sea cucumber populations from the Aegean Sea (Turkey): First insights to sustainable management of new fisheries, Ocean & Coastal Management, 92, 87-94, doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2014.02.014. Article.
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