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, fromthe littoral zone to deep sea, and coral reefs aroundislands.

Seacucumbers are especially abundant around Cat BaIsland, Co To Island, Bach Long Vi Island, The Gulfof Tonkin, Ly Son Island, Khanh Hoa, Truong SaArchipelago, Phu Quoc Island, and Tho Chu Island(Dao Tan Ho, 1996).
Captured Species
Statistics obtained from continuing studies indicatethat there are about 90 species of sea cucumber inVietnamese seawaters (Thai Tran Bai, 2004). Of the 90 species identified, 19species belonging to five families Cucumariidae (3species), 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 abundantstock of sea cucumbers, of which many species areof 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 16species belonging to five families Holothuriidae (9species), Stichopodidae (2 species), Cucumariidae(1 species), Caudinidae (1species), Synaptidae (3species) (annex 2).
The genera and families in Vietnamese seawater withthe 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 catchsea cucumbers. This method places pressure on seacucumber populations due to the crowded fishermenand high fishing volume, as sea cucumbers normallylive in flocks making it easy to catch large quantities.In addition, other fishing methods catch seacucumbers as bycatch, simultaneously damaging seacucumber habitat. Examples of such methods includetrawl net with undersized mesh, explosives and electricalfishing gear. These fishing methods result in large deathsof sea cucumbers and other living organisms, disruptingthe ecosystem balance in that area.
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Sea cucumber is a valuable and nutritious food.Sea cucumber meat contains many nutrients in ahigh percentage such as protein (76%), amino acids(lysine, proline ...) and many trace substances suchas P, Cu, Fe..., many vitamins, hormones and activebiological subtances such as Saponin Rg, Rh. Italso contains few lipids and almost no cholesterolso that it is a kind of ideal food that can be used byobese people and people with blood-lipid disorders.Furthermore, it is also a kind of good medicalmaterial especially in traditional care and curemethods. It can be used in treatment of gastritisand stomach ulcers, anemia, nervous breakdown,lack of libido in men, and backache, amongst otherthings.

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 thelargest market for sea cucumbers. Fresh seacucumber usually have the intestines removed,is chilled and transported to the city. However,the market for seed consumption (produced byResearch Institute III for aquaculture – NhaTrang) is concentrated in places such as QuangNgai, Ninh Thuan, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoaprovinces. At the moment seed availability isstill limited but may increase in the future.
In Asian countries, sea cucumber is viewed as ahigh-class dish, while in European countries it isalso valued and served in luxurious restaurantsunder the name Cucumus marinus.
Cost: Normally, sea cucumbers that weigh from0.3 – 0.5kg/ind. cost 17-20,000 VND/fresh kg.However, the price is also dependent upon thesize, season and species (table 2).
Furthermore, extracted products used formedicinal purposes will be more expensive,for example, a box of Amorvita sea cucumberabove cost 225,000 VND.

Sea cucumbers are an high commercial speciesgroup so that they are being caught for sale. Somespecies are being overfished to satisfy marketdemands. However, commercial activities of seacucumbers haven’t checked clearly so that importexportstatistical data (import-export yield, importexportcost, etc.) of these species is still unconnectedand uncomprehensive through many years. Almost,the commercial data of sea cucumbers is selectedfrom import-export companies of sea cucumbers orfrom fishmen or from traders.
Sea cucumbers are usually caught in the south ofVietNam (Phu Quoc, Ly Son, Con Dao, Tho Chuand Truong Sa Archipelago). Sea cucumbers fromthese areas are gathered, transported to Ho ChiMinh market and exported to some countries in Asia(China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore),Canada, America and Australia. The species areusually exploited and transported to Ho Chi Minh Market including: Holothuria scabra, Thelenotaananas, Bohadschia argus, Holothuria nobilis andStichopus chloronotus.
Sea cucumbers market in VietNam includes twokind of products: frozen and dried sea cucumberproducts. The frozen products are very rare. Theyare cooked, canned for export market. The dried seacucumbers are common products in VietNam. Theyare provided to either domestic or overseas market.If dried products are wetted, they are usually sold atlocal supermarkets. Some export companies of seacucumbers in VietNam following:
+ HX export companyAddress: 405/2 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh St.,Binh Thanh Dist., Ho Chi Minh City
They are exporting different kind of dried seacucumbers such as: White teat fish, Flower teatfish, 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 exportedto 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 ThanhDist., Ho Chi Minh cityĐịa chỉ: 192 đường Vạn Kiếp, Khu 3, Quận BìnhThạnh, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Market: Some countries of northern America,Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Eastern AsiaIn addition, there are some other export companiesof sea cucumbers, such as:
Viet Delta industrialCo., ltd. (20/5 Dinh Bo Linh St., Ward 24, BinhThanh Dist., Ho Chi Minh City), Anbai sea productcompany ltd. (1 Bach Ma Street, District 10thHoChiMinh-Viet Nam), etc.
Status and Trends
As Sea Cucumbers are of high economic aswell as medicinal value, many species are beingoverfished. This situation is aggravated due tothe irresponsible management and lack of closedcontrol in coastal local authorities, causing thesea cucumber resources to rapidly decline. Manyspecies now are listed as overfished in the Red Bookof Vietnam in various distincts. Sea cucumbers liveabundantly on bottom substrates or in burrows insand or mud, making them especially vulnerableto fishing in high volume..Data from the FisheriesDepartment of Kien Giang showed that after 10years (from 1993 to 2003), total catch around PhuQuoc 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 0.3tons per day). Meanwhile, fishing activities that usedestructive techniques such as explosives,, bottomtrawl, electrical push, and electrical trawl net allpose great threats for sea cucumbers and theirecosystems.

Due to their high value in medicine and food, someHolothuroid species are subject to intensive fishing in theVietnamese sea, such as Holothuria scabra, Actinopygaechinites, Thelenota ananas, Holothuria nobilis, andHolothuria nobilis. These species are over fished mainlyin Khanh Hoa, Con Dao, and Truong Sa, and especiallyin Phu Quoc. This has resulted in the quantity of seacucumbers in Phu Quoc facing depletion. Ten yearsago, about 3 tons of sea cucumber were caught each dayaround Phu Quoc, however now the catch is only 300kg per day.
Truong Sa Archipelago also has a high abundance of seacucumbers and large numbers of fishermen come fromLyson Island (Quang Ngai). According to statistical dataobtained by the People’s Committee of Lyson District,during 1990 to 1995 one fishing boat could catch about1,400 kg per voyage (32 days). At the time of writing,the price of 1kg of sea cucumber is 500,000 VND, so that1,4000kg of sea cucumber is worth about 700 millionVND. Thus, the average income for a labourer on a boatis about 25 - 40 million VND. It is for this reason thatsea cucumbers are being increasingly exploited, as thenumber of fishermen targeting sea cucumbers contuinuesto rise (about 30% of fishermen in Lyson fish for seacucumbers).
Bach Long Vi Island is another area suffering fromoverfishing and lack of responsible planning. In thepast, there existed a large population of red and whitesea 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 speciescomposition and structure, distribution,biology, stock capacity in Vietnamese water inorder to be scientific witness for protection andresponsible uses.
  • Study and apply advanced techniques inseed production and commercial culture ofsome economic species to serve for trading,consumption and processing as well as materialsource for extraction bioactive compounds.
  • Intensify scientific statistical management,monitoring, protection and reproduction ofeconomic sea cucumber species in scope of areaand countries members of CITES, SEAFDEC.
  • Intensify international cooperation in protection,development and orientation in sustainable usesof sea cucumber resources among countries inASEAN.

An understanding of species composition,distribution, biology, fishing status, commercialculture, processed products and extracts fromsea cucumbers, as well as marketing and trade ofsea cucumbers are all necessary to find suitablesolutions to manage and maintain this resourcesustainably 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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