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Sea cucumbers in the news

Norwegian and South African researchers join forces to farm sea cucumber

Blue Legasea

Picture: Møreforsking - All rights reserved

South African and Norwegian researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Møreforsking are collaborating on a project that aims to develop aquaculture of novel sea cucumber species. The project is  led by Møreforsking Ålesund. The goal of the project is to ensure sustainable production of sea cucumbers, while providing high value seafood to the global market and reducing fishing pressure on wild stocks.

South Africa and Norway both have a long history as fisheries and seafood nations, and in recent decades have developed considerable expertise in aquaculture. The ongoing collaborative project will study key factors that are essential to the development of a commercial aquaculture industry based on juvenile production of local sea cucumbers. The concept is designed around the steps of a cultivation protocol for sea cucumbers and will generate knowledge on reproduction, growth and development until commercial size for the selected species. In Norway, the research work will focus on the red sea cucumber (Parastichopus tremulus). In South Africa, studies will be carried out on both cold and warm water species.

Sea cucumbers are prime candidates for aquaculture as they have a high market price and are suitable for co-cultivation or integrated aquaculture with fish, shellfish and macroalgae. Norwegian and South African colleagues will investigate whether the selected local Norwegian and South African species are suitable for cultivation in such systems, as well as assess the potential for aquaculture production. The researchers will pay special attention to the effects of marine pollution and microplastics on the of sea cucumbers. These factors will impact the management of wild stocks and ensure the development of a sustainable industry.