People in the Malaitian outer islands have been warned to refrain from evading the current ban on harvesting sea cucumbers.
The warning came after the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources received a tip-off that a local businessman was evading the ban.
Fisheries Director Edward Honiwala warned there were heavy penalties for breaching the current ban.
“The penalty is $200,000 if people were caught involving in harvesting sea cucumbers illegally or are being in possession of sea cucumber – that’s under the Regulations,” he said.
“But under the Fisheries Act there are also other provisions that we can consider if we proceed to prosecution.”
Meanwhile, Mr Honiawala said the Ministry was also working closely with chiefs in Lord Howe concerning the matter.
SIBC News understands a Lord Howe businessman, Dr Reginald Aipia, is allegedly harvesting sea cucumbers under a farming business name.
“Currently, the Ministry is working closely with the Lord Howe house of chiefs in trying to solve this issue because actually even the chiefs don’t like what Dr Aipia is doing,” he said.
“And the message the Ministry always tells people is to refrain from such illegal activities because people would face the law if they are caught.”
By Rickson Bau