, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Sea Cucumber Aquaculture in the Western Indian Ocean: Challenges for Sustainable Livelihood and Stock Improvement

  • Hampus Eriksson
  • Georgina Robinson
  • Matthew J. Slater
  • Max Troell
Review Paper


The decline in sea cucumber fisheries that serve the Asian dried seafood market has prompted an increase in global sea cucumber aquaculture. The tropical sandfish (Holothuria scabra) has, in this context, been reared and produced with mixed success. In the Western Indian Ocean, villagers often participate in the export fishery for sea cucumbers as a source of income. However, with a growing concern of depleted stocks introduction of hatcheries to farm sandfish as a community livelihood and to replenish wild stocks is being promoted. This review identifies and discusses a number of aspects that constitute constraints or implications with regard to development of sandfish farming in the region. The conclusion is that for sandfish farming to live up to its expectations the possible impacts need to be further studied, and that improved evaluation of ongoing projects is required. In the interim, a precautionary approach toward new enterprise activities is suggested.


Sandfish Holothuria scabra Farming Re-stocking Environmental impacts Governance 



We are grateful for the discussions and inspiration acquired at the IFS/WIOMSA Aquaculture Workshop, Zanzibar in December 2009, and at the ACIAR/SPC Asia-Pacific Tropical Sea Cucumber Aquaculture Symposium, New Caledonia in February 2011. In particular, we would like to thank Jeff Kinch and Steve Purcell for providing both photos and information, Kalo Pakoa and Natacha Agudo for providing information and Garth Cripps for providing a photo. In addition, we would like to acknowledge fruitful discussions with Ben Ponia, Cathy Hair, Chantal Conand, Kim Friedman, Maria Byrne, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Nils Kautsky, Selina Stead, and Sven Uthicke. We also thank the two anonymous referees for constructive comments on this manuscript. H. Eriksson benefited from funding from the Swedish International Development Agency and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association. Dr. Slater is funded by a Leverhulme Research Project Grant.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hampus Eriksson
    • 1
  • Georgina Robinson
    • 2
  • Matthew J. Slater
    • 3
  • Max Troell
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Systems EcologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of Marine Science and TechnologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastleUK
  4. 4.The Beijer InstituteSwedish Royal Academy of SciencesStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Stockholm Resilience CentreStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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