By WATSON GABANA
BECHE-DE-MERS (sea cucumbers) have been featured in the latest release of postal stamps by the Philatelic Division of Post PNG Limited to promote the protection of this special marine species.
This sea slug is vital to the livelihood of coral reefs. They clean the debris like dead fish and other marine animals that destroy the coral reef and clean the sea floor. It is also the second largest multi million kina revenue source apart from the lucrative tuna industry.
This marine slug has been bringing about K22 million into the national purse until the Papua New Guinea Fisheries Authority (PNGFA) put a stop to its harvest and marketing three years ago.
Now Post PNG Limited has featured nine of the 22 beche-de-mer species in the latest postal stamp launched this week.
"The PNG National Fisheries Authority (PNGFA) had come up with the national beche-de-mer management which this new stamp is supporting. We hope to help spread the message and help the beche-de-mer," PNGFA executive manager-corporate services, John Kasu said.
"PNGFA has banned the collection and marketing of beche-de-mer for three years now. Benche-de-mer is not like other marine species where they can swim away. They are being depleted so fast from excessive harvesting and so we are trying to protect them from depletion," he said.
Post PNG chief operations officer, Ray Clarke said that the sea cucumber was featured in this year's stamp because of the rising demand in the Asian market. He said that the postal stamps will remind us of the over-exploitation and encourage tougher management regimes to control the sustainable harvest of this sea slug.
John Michael, executive manager of terrestrial program with the Department of Environment and Conservation, applauded Post PNG for the initiative taken to promote the marine species in their latest stamp collection.
"It is an excellent way to promote the importance role this sea creature play in the marine eco-system," Mr John said.
The Philatelic Division hopes to produce 15 new postage stamps this year including topics exclusive to PNG. Among them would be Census 2010, a sinking atoll in Bougainville and the World Trade Expo in Shanghai, China.