- Global wild capture of sea cucumbers (different species combined estimated as live weight) in the latest FAO estimation in 2019 was about 59,000 tonnes with about 27,000 tonnes from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea (FAO 2021).
- Tubular Sea Cucumber is economically valuable, targeted by fishermen together with other species of sea cucumber, especially for exports.
- The commercial value is mostly determined by the size and the thickness of the body wall, among other criteria. Since the final product is the dry body of the sea cucumber, the profitability would depend on body wall thickness and water content which are different between species.
- Some animals in the population occur in shallow waters (<40 m depth) making them readily accessible by divers (free or with scuba or hookah equipment), while other animals can occur in deeper waters making them inaccessible to collection by divers. It is not known what proportion of the population is shallow and, hence, readily accessible to collectors.
- Signs of over-exploitation were detected in main export countries of the species including Turkey, Algeria and Morocco.
- This species has seen increased demand in Asian markets in recent years, becoming one of the most intensively exploited sea cucumbers from the Mediterranean Sea. Aquaculture (hatchery-based) operations became feasible over the last five years or so.
- The genus Holothuria includes a number of threatened species (three species were recently added to CITES Appendix II). The life history of the Tubular Sea Cucumber and its high economic value could make it similarly susceptible without management. Hence, a precautionary approach should be taken in the sourcing of this species using the most up-to-date information available. Market price stands out as the key driver of extinction risk in commercially exploited sea cucumbers so elevated market price for the species may signal a problem in the wild population.
- Cadmium and lead values obtained from muscle tissue of Tubular Sea Cucumber in one region in Turkey exceeded acceptable trace metal values, reflecting deterioration of the substrate in which the species lives; the body flesh of the species reflects the substrate composition. This is of possible human health concern.
- Some smuggling of the species is known to occur.
The FAO statistics are catalogued on FishStatJ software by FAO and by default (not by specification), the Unit name is “Tonnes – live weight” but major published reviews (e.g., FAO global review report) illustrate that many of the countries are actually reporting dried products, which are very roughly one-tenth of the weight of the fresh live animals. So, a large number of the data entries are underestimating live weight by an order of magnitude. The discrepancies in FAO data have been known for many decades and reported in several publications.