Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Viet Nam Sea cucumber fisheries
Fishery  Fact Sheet
Status and trends of sea cucumbers fisheries in SouthEast Asia 2006
Viet Nam Sea cucumber fisheries
Fact Sheet Citation  
Owned bySoutheast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) – more>>

Overview: Vietnam is one of countries where has abundant resource of sea cucumber. According to statistical previous studies showed that known about 90 species. Major families and genera of sea cucumber are Family Holothuriidae (genus Holothuria, Sticopus), family Cucumaridae (genus Colochirus, Cucumaria), family Sinaptidae (genus Protankyra). From that, there are about 10 species, which have high nutrition and commercial value, for example: Holothuria martensii, H. atra, H. scabra, H. echinites, H. mauritiana, H. nobilis, H. ananas... These species have been studied to use as food, medicine and extracted bioactive compounds. However, up to now, there isn’t full studied and statistic in stock capacity assessment of sea cucumber in Vietnam.
Though, there were some studies on pilot of artificial seed production and commercial culture scheme and initial satisfactoried results were gotten. However, scale is still small, not stable, and don’t satify for demand of sea cucumber market.
Now, most of sea cucumber yield for domestic or overseas trading and consumption is contributed from mainly natural fishing. Thus, the resources now face to declination in everywhere, many commercial species are still overfished and threaten to distinct if do not act in sustainable management and utilization.
Use of sea cucumber in functional food and medicine is great potential. Some bioactive compounds such as Holothurin B, HOLM-1, and HOLM-2, lectin, peptide and sea cucumber Amorvita are being produced but still need more specific and professional studies about sea cucumber in order to exploit effectively its resource and uses.
Trade, process and consumption of sea cucumber in Vietnam generally is in small scale, there do not invest and manage in systematic. Sea cucumber products are consumed under raw or crude type.

Location of Viet Nam Sea cucumber fisheries

Geographic reference:  Viet Nam
Spatial Scale: National
Reference year: 2006
Approach: Fishery Resource

Harvested Resource
Fishery Area: Viet Nam

Captured Species: Deep-water redfish; Surf redfish; Black teatfish …  

Fishing Activity
Type of production system: Artisanal   

Fishery Area
Climatic zone: Tropical.   Bottom type: Coral reef.   Horizontal distribution: Littoral; Neritic.   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geo References

Sea Cucumbers are found in a variety of geographical areas, from the littoral zone to deep sea, and coral reefs around islands.

Sea cucumbers are especially abundant around Cat Ba Island, Co To Island, Bach Long Vi Island, The Gulf of Tonkin, Ly Son Island, Khanh Hoa, Truong Sa Archipelago, Phu Quoc Island, and Tho Chu Island (Dao Tan Ho, 1996).
Captured Species
Statistics obtained from continuing studies indicate that there are about 90 species of sea cucumber in Vietnamese seawaters (Thai Tran Bai, 2004). Of the 90 species identified, 19 species belonging to five families Cucumariidae (3 species), Holothuriidae (10 species), Stichopolidae (1 species), Molpadiidae (1 species), Synaptidae (4 species) have been found in The Tonkin Gulf. Khanh Hoa is another area that has an abundant stock of sea cucumbers, of which many species are of economical value i.e. Holothuria martensii, H. atra, H. Scabra, H. echinites, H. mauritiana, H. nobilis, H. Ananas. Con Dao also has high diversity of species with 16 species belonging to five families Holothuriidae (9 species), Stichopodidae (2 species), Cucumariidae (1 species), Caudinidae (1species), Synaptidae (3 species) (annex 2).
The genera and families in Vietnamese seawater with the greatest number of species, are Holothuriidae (Holothuria, Sticopus), Cucumaridae (Colochirus, Cucumaria), and Sinaptidae (Protankyra).
Bohadschia graeffei
Synapta maculata
Fishing Technique
SCUBA diving is the main method used to catch sea cucumbers. This method places pressure on sea cucumber populations due to the crowded fishermen and high fishing volume, as sea cucumbers normally live in flocks making it easy to catch large quantities. In addition, other fishing methods catch sea cucumbers as bycatch, simultaneously damaging sea cucumber habitat. Examples of such methods include trawl net with undersized mesh, explosives and electrical fishing gear. These fishing methods result in large deaths of sea cucumbers and other living organisms, disrupting the ecosystem balance in that area.
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Sea cucumber is a valuable and nutritious food. Sea cucumber meat contains many nutrients in a high percentage such as protein (76%), amino acids (lysine, proline ...) and many trace substances such as P, Cu, Fe..., many vitamins, hormones and active biological subtances such as Saponin Rg, Rh. It also contains few lipids and almost no cholesterol so that it is a kind of ideal food that can be used by obese people and people with blood-lipid disorders. Furthermore, it is also a kind of good medical material especially in traditional care and cure methods. It can be used in treatment of gastritis and stomach ulcers, anemia, nervous breakdown, lack of libido in men, and backache, amongst other things.

For further information on "Use of Sea Cucumbers as nutritious and functional food" and on "Extraction of sea cucumber for medicinal materials", see the Report accessible from the "Source of Information" section.

Market in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City has the largest market for sea cucumbers. Fresh sea cucumber usually have the intestines removed, is chilled and transported to the city. However, the market for seed consumption (produced by Research Institute III for aquaculture – Nha Trang) is concentrated in places such as Quang Ngai, Ninh Thuan, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces. At the moment seed availability is still limited but may increase in the future.
In Asian countries, sea cucumber is viewed as a high-class dish, while in European countries it is also valued and served in luxurious restaurants under the name Cucumus marinus.
Cost: Normally, sea cucumbers that weigh from 0.3 – 0.5kg/ind. cost 17-20,000 VND/fresh kg. However, the price is also dependent upon the size, season and species (table 2).
Furthermore, extracted products used for medicinal purposes will be more expensive, for example, a box of Amorvita sea cucumber above cost 225,000 VND.

Sea cucumbers are an high commercial species group so that they are being caught for sale. Some species are being overfished to satisfy market demands. However, commercial activities of sea cucumbers haven’t checked clearly so that importexport statistical data (import-export yield, importexport cost, etc.) of these species is still unconnected and uncomprehensive through many years. Almost, the commercial data of sea cucumbers is selected from import-export companies of sea cucumbers or from fishmen or from traders.
Sea cucumbers are usually caught in the south of VietNam (Phu Quoc, Ly Son, Con Dao, Tho Chu and Truong Sa Archipelago). Sea cucumbers from these areas are gathered, transported to Ho Chi Minh market and exported to some countries in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore), Canada, America and Australia. The species are usually exploited and transported to Ho Chi Minh Market including: Holothuria scabra, Thelenota ananas, Bohadschia argus, Holothuria nobilis and Stichopus chloronotus.
Sea cucumbers market in VietNam includes two kind of products: frozen and dried sea cucumber products. The frozen products are very rare. They are cooked, canned for export market. The dried sea cucumbers are common products in VietNam. They are provided to either domestic or overseas market. If dried products are wetted, they are usually sold at local supermarkets. Some export companies of sea cucumbers in VietNam following:
+ HX export company Address: 405/2 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh St., Binh Thanh Dist., Ho Chi Minh City
They are exporting different kind of dried sea cucumbers such as: White teat fish, Flower teat fish, Green fish, Yellow sand fish, White sand fish, Black sand fish, Lolly fish, Curry fish, Pyhon fish, Shark’s skin, Shark’s fin, Fish maw (Globefish, Pangacious fism maw, Lacfish maw...) , Sea horse, etc.
Market: sea cucumber products have been exported to more than 20 countries, such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, United States, etc.
Phu Mai company ltd. Address: 192 Van Kiep St., Ward 3, Binh Thanh Dist., Ho Chi Minh city Địa chỉ: 192 đường Vạn Kiếp, Khu 3, Quận Bình Thạnh, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Market: Some countries of northern America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Eastern Asia In addition, there are some other export companies of sea cucumbers, such as:
Viet Delta industrial Co., ltd. (20/5 Dinh Bo Linh St., Ward 24, Binh Thanh Dist., Ho Chi Minh City), Anbai sea product company ltd. (1 Bach Ma Street, District 10th HoChiMinh-Viet Nam), etc.
Status and Trends
As Sea Cucumbers are of high economic as well as medicinal value, many species are being overfished. This situation is aggravated due to the irresponsible management and lack of closed control in coastal local authorities, causing the sea cucumber resources to rapidly decline. Many species now are listed as overfished in the Red Book of Vietnam in various distincts. Sea cucumbers live abundantly on bottom substrates or in burrows in sand or mud, making them especially vulnerable to fishing in high volume..Data from the Fisheries Department of Kien Giang showed that after 10 years (from 1993 to 2003), total catch around Phu Quoc Islands had reduced by about 10 times (in 1993 total catch was approximately 3 tons per day, but in 2003 total catch had dropped to nearly 0.3 tons per day). Meanwhile, fishing activities that use destructive techniques such as explosives,, bottom trawl, electrical push, and electrical trawl net all pose great threats for sea cucumbers and their ecosystems.

Due to their high value in medicine and food, some Holothuroid species are subject to intensive fishing in the Vietnamese sea, such as Holothuria scabra, Actinopyga echinites, Thelenota ananas, Holothuria nobilis, and Holothuria nobilis. These species are over fished mainly in Khanh Hoa, Con Dao, and Truong Sa, and especially in Phu Quoc. This has resulted in the quantity of sea cucumbers in Phu Quoc facing depletion. Ten years ago, about 3 tons of sea cucumber were caught each day around Phu Quoc, however now the catch is only 300 kg per day.
Truong Sa Archipelago also has a high abundance of sea cucumbers and large numbers of fishermen come from Lyson Island (Quang Ngai). According to statistical data obtained by the People’s Committee of Lyson District, during 1990 to 1995 one fishing boat could catch about 1,400 kg per voyage (32 days). At the time of writing, the price of 1kg of sea cucumber is 500,000 VND, so that 1,4000kg of sea cucumber is worth about 700 million VND. Thus, the average income for a labourer on a boat is about 25 - 40 million VND. It is for this reason that sea cucumbers are being increasingly exploited, as the number of fishermen targeting sea cucumbers contuinues to rise (about 30% of fishermen in Lyson fish for sea cucumbers).
Bach Long Vi Island is another area suffering from overfishing and lack of responsible planning. In the past, there existed a large population of red and white sea cucumbers, but now they have disappeared.
Status of Management
Several attempts to protect sea cucumber species in Vietnam have been made, including designated zones for reproduction areas, and banning trawling and the use of explosives. In addition, initiatives were also undertaken on artificial seed production and culture of sea cucumber species. For additional information on Culture of Sea Cucumbers, see the Report accessible from the "Source of Information" section.

From the study, followings are recommended:
  • Need to study and statistic fully about species composition and structure, distribution, biology, stock capacity in Vietnamese water in order to be scientific witness for protection and responsible uses.
  • Study and apply advanced techniques in seed production and commercial culture of some economic species to serve for trading, consumption and processing as well as material source for extraction bioactive compounds.
  • Intensify scientific statistical management, monitoring, protection and reproduction of economic sea cucumber species in scope of area and countries members of CITES, SEAFDEC.
  • Intensify international cooperation in protection, development and orientation in sustainable uses of sea cucumber resources among countries in ASEAN.

An understanding of species composition, distribution, biology, fishing status, commercial culture, processed products and extracts from sea cucumbers, as well as marketing and trade of sea cucumbers are all necessary to find suitable solutions to manage and maintain this resource sustainably in Vietnam.
Source of Information
The bibliographic references and aknowledgments are available in the report accessible from the "Source of Information" section.
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