Marianas Variety

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    Saturday, June 23, 2018-1:36:02P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Sea cucumber: A cultural delicacy in Asia-Pacific

SEA cucumber is a delicacy in East and Southeast Asia as well as in the Pacific Islands.

For the Chinese, dried sea cucumber can nourish the blood, “tone” the kidney, treat weakness, impotence, debility, constipation due to intestinal dryness, frequent urination, arthritis pain and osteoarthritis.

Sea cucumbers are also considered as an aphrodisiac and a cure for whooping cough and high blood pressure. They are valued for their anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties, protein, antioxidants and B vitamins.

There are different kinds of sea cucumbers and the one eaten in Palau is called “trepang” which is served Japanese  sashimi style.

But islanders interviewed by this writer said sea  cucumbers should be avoided by people with shellfish and seafood allergies.

Japan, Korea and Malaysia are some of the countries that make food products from sea cucumbers.

For their part, researchers  said overharvesting of sea cucumber species could have lasting effects on the marine ecosystems of small Pacific islands, resulting in changes that could limit the productivity of shallow water ecosystems.

Researchers said sea cucumbers  play a key role in converting decomposing organic matter into recyclable nutrients and keeping coastal ecosystems healthy and clean.

These researchers include Steven Lee of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the University of Bremen; Amanda K. Ford of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the University of Bremen; Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai of Wildlife Conservation Society; Christian Wild of the University of Bremen; and Sebastian C.A. Ferse of Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the University of Bremen.

Sea cucumbers, they said, “are the vacuum cleaners of coastal marine environments.”

Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai said “hopefully [the research] results will help inform management decisions that will conserve moderate to high densities of sea cucumbers and protect these ecosystems in the interest of safeguarding coastal livelihoods and food security.”

In Palau, the Conservation Strategy Fund has partnered with the government of Ngardmau state to conduct a value-chain analysis of its sea cucumber fishery.

“Sea cucumbers represent an important species culturally and, if managed properly, have the potential to significantly improve economic conditions in Ngardmau,” the Conservation Strategy Fund said.