The Shallow-water Echinoderms of Yap
Yap has an abundance of commercially valuable species of holothuroids and is currently being targeted by at least three foreign buyers of the processed product, beche-de-mer. The Yap State government has realized the danger of overharvesting this valuable resource and is currently seeking to develop a management plan that will permit a sustainable level of harvesting. We performed a survey of holothuroids and other echinoderms around the main island to 1) assist in a stock assessment of commercially valuable species and 2) document Yap’s echinoderms as part of a global survey of coral reef biodiversity.
In nine days of surveying, nineteen sites were visited around the island. Several commercially valuable species of holothuroids inhabited Yap’s waters, some in abundance. The most valuable species seen were Holothuria (Microthele) whitmaei (black teat fish), Holothuria (Metriatyla) scabra (sand fish) and Thelenota ananas (prickly red fish). A total of 66 taxonomic units attributable to species have now been identified from Yap’s waters: 33 holothuroids, 14 echinoids, 14 asteroids and 5 crinoids. At least four of the holothuroids appear to be new to science and formally undescribed. Based on our brief survey, our preliminary recommendations for a beche-de-mer management plan include: 1) institute a moratorium on fishing until a management plan is in place; 2) conduct an inventory of the island’s commercially valuable species; 3) institute minimum harvestable lengths for each species; 4) institute temporary closures to increase stock size and value; 5) increase public awareness and teach monitoring methods to villages; 6) continually assess the effectiveness of the management plan and modify it when necessary.
Alex Kerr, Kris Netchy, and Michelle Hoffman. "The Shallow-water Echinoderms of Yap" University of Guam Marine Laboratory Technical Report.121 (2007).