Holothurian catches are often bought by processors who also export beche-de-mer.
A small part of the catch is processed as beche-de-mer, as illustrated in the recent Japanese best-seller "The eyes of the sea cucumber" (Tsurumi, 1990).
The body wall is then processed into beche-de-mer for export.
Hong Kong is by far the world's major beche-de-mer market.
Hong Kong imports beche-de-mer largely from ten countries, listed here in decreasing order of importance as of 1989: Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines, Fiji, People's Republic of China, Maldives, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, and New Caledonia.
Re-exports peaked in 1987 with nearly 5,000 t of beche-de-mer leaving Hong Kong for other markets.
Beche-de-mer, the product that brought the maritime industries to Torres Strait in the 1860s, was gathered in shallow water using small open sailing craft, usually referred to as whaleboats.
The marine biologist Charles Yonge, who visited Torres Strait in 1929, reported that the people of Mer, mostly women, used dinghies on home and close-by Outer Barrier reefs to gather beche-de-mer and trochus, (71) and a well informed if somewhat patronizing 1928 Australian Woman's Mirror article entitled, 'Women's work in Torres Straits', revealed that, along with handcrafts and housewifely occupations, Torres Strait Islander women cleaned trochus shell, tended beche-de-mer smoke houses, and 'of late years the girls and younger women actually help their fathers and husbands in the collection of beche-de-mer and trochus on the "home" reefs, and have proved themselves very clever divers'.
This phase was short-lived, if only because beche-de-mer are broadcast breeders highly vulnerable to over-exploitation.
Douglas to 1897 Departmental Commission on Pearl-Shell and Beche-de-Mer Fisheries', QVP, vol.
28; 'Evidence of John Costin to Royal Commission into the Working of the Pearl-Shell and Beche-de-Mer Industries', QPP, vol.
The fishing industry has undergone something of a resurgence over the last 20 years, but nowadays it is based on prawns, crayfish, mackerel, trochus shell, live fish, and beche-de-mer