Online trading

Online trade in sea cucumbers and fish maws in S’pore and Malaysia threatens species’ survival

SINGAPORE – Booming online trade and growing appetite for two seafood products – fish maw and sea cucumber – in Singapore and Malaysia are threatening their populations in the wild, a global watchdog has warned. wildlife trade.

Notably, several internationally threatened and regulated species, including those protected under the laws of Singapore and Malaysia, are being sold online, the nongovernmental organization Traffic said in a report released on Friday (January 28).

The report, which calls for stricter monitoring of the trade in the two marine specialties, had tracked advertisements and listings for these products online for 11 days in 2020. It then returned to the sites on January 14 this year and has found that the trade was still active and, in fact, included species not offered in 2020.

Among the sites monitored by Traffic were Singapore-based e-commerce and seafood websites such as Carousell, Shopee, Lazada, Song Fish Dealer and Natural Brand.

Between June 17 and July 6, 2020, 33 online sites in both countries had numerous listings offering at least 5,540 kg of sea cucumber and fish maw products in total.

Sellers on e-commerce platforms Tradekey Singapore and Tradekey Malaysia claimed they could supply 4,100 kg of sea cucumber, including 2,300 kg per month and 100 kg per week, the report said.

“The volumes of sea cucumbers and fish maws seen in online trade in Malaysia and Singapore are significant. However, the actual volume of trade is much higher than what was recorded during the assessment,” said Ms. Kanitha Krishnasamy, Director of Traffic in South – East Asia.

“We know this not only because these products are widely available at retail outlets, but some online sellers have also claimed they are able to supply large quantities on a monthly basis.”

Fish maw and sea cucumber are two of the four traditional seafood specialties widely enjoyed in Asia, alongside abalone and shark fin.

Sea cucumber – found on seabeds around the world – is highly valued for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Fishmouth refers to the dried swim bladders of large fish such as sturgeon.

For the report, A Rapid Assessment Of Online Trade In Sea Cucumber And Fish Maw In Malaysia And Singapore, researchers were able to identify about 20 species of sea cucumbers offered for sale online. Of these, six species are listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

These include the spiny sea cucumber and the sandfish, also known as wen tu shen in Chinese.