Ulu gets a first bite at beche-de-mer agreement

Apia 2 September 2014
The Ulu o Tokelau got the first bite at beche-de-mer today - that is, at signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the New Caledonia Government. The MOU is about the sustainable development of the beche-de-mer, or sea cucumber, sector in the Pacific.

The counter-signature came from the Honourable Anthony Lecren, Minister of  Environment and Sustainable Development in Noumea, New Caledonia. The function took place in the Tokelau SIDS Engagement room in Apia.

In his introductory speech, Monsieur Anthony Lecren gave a bit of history to the MOU between Pacific nations. He explained that Tokelau played a particular part in this MOU because the document focused on small island states – and Tokelau being the smallest, got the special honour of being the first to sign.

Other signatory nations would join the list on the following day, as a side event to the SIDS conference.
Monsieur Anthony Lecren, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in New Caledonia with his Advisor/interpreter before the first signing of the Beche-de-mer agreement today.
The initiative arose at the second Oceania21 Summit held in Noumea on 2 July 2014. Participating states are American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, New Caledonia, the Marshall Islands, The Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The aim of the MOU is to structure the sea cucumber sector on a Pacific scale to contribute to the economic and social development of these countries and territories.

Beche-de-mer, sea cucumber, is a marine animal highly appreciated in Asian gastronomy and in pharmacology. High demand has led to overfishing and a collapse of stocks. It has also caused significant damage to the marine ecosystem.

The collapse of stocks has meant the end of beche-de-mer fishing because it was no longer profitable. That is depriving Pacific countries and territories of an important financial resource and reducing income accordingly.

The MOU aims to reverse this situation so that beche-de-mer stocks can build up again. The parties to the MOU hope that their cooperation will lead to the creation of jobs, sustainable economic development and social well-being of local populations.
Above: Monsieur Anthony Lecren, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in New Caledonia countersigns the beche-de-mer agreement. Witness is the Ulu o Tokelau,  Aliki Faipule Kuresa Nasau.
Below: The transaction is completed with a handshake.