Stop Overfishing of Ecologically Important Sea Cucumbers

Holothuria edulis

Target: Hiroshi Moriyama, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture in Japan

Goal: Tighten restrictions on sea cucumber fishing in Japan before they’re driven to extinction.

Sea cucumbers off the coastline of Japan are dropping rapidly in population numbers due to overfishing in Okinawa. The animals are used for consumption and the practice of medicine but stand little chance of staying off of the endangered list without increased fishing regulations.

Sea cucumbers, sometimes referred to as the garbage animals of the sea, eat debris, which helps keep the ocean floor and coral reefs clean. Without this service, the welfare of the entire ecosystem and all species living within it are at risk.

Sixteen species of sea cucumber, the squishy, unexpected heroes of the sea, have already been placed on International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, a list of species threatened with extinction. In many regions of Southeast Asia, sea cucumbers are harvested for medicinal elixirs as well as a culinary delicacy. As they continue to be fished for these purposes, the ecosystems they help regulate are left with an unoccupied niche and the water is left unfiltered.

Species such as the “Burnt Hot Dog” sea cucumber that have not been traditionally used for consumption and trade are now being over-exploited. The “Burnt Hot Dog” sea cucumber, which resembles a wrinkly, overcooked sausage, is found almost exclusively off the coast of Okinawa and is decreasing in genetic diversity, an indication that the species is reproducing asexually more often than sexually which may be due to their growing rarity.

Sign the petition below demanding stricter regulations on the commercial fishing of sea cucumbers in Japan to protect the sea cucumbers that are so integral to our oceans’ ecosystems.


Dear Minister Moriyama,

The increase in demand for sea cucumbers in Asia has placed pressure on Japanese fisheries to overfish a valued member of the oceans’ ecosystems. Sea cucumbers play a vital role in the ocean’s ecologies, filtering the detritus and debris out of water to allow for the usage of clean water by other animals.

The welfare of these animals is currently being ignored. Sixteen species of sea cucumber have already been placed on the “red zone” list, indicating they are likely to become endangered if precautions are not taken to ensure their well-being. Because these animals are so critical in protecting our oceans, I urge you to implement increased restrictions on the fishing of sea cucumbers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ed Bierman

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  1. Bloody stupid, self-serving, brainless twits! Stop destroying the only planet we all have to live on!

  2. I’ve written it at least a thousand times, Harry Truman and Douglass McArthur should have kept going at the end of the second world war to rid the earth of Asian dirty habits-butchering all life in the name of food-especially domestic animals, they are the scourge of the earth, the lowest form of life THEY NEED TO BE ELIMANATED..

    • Kae Blecha, OTR says:

      Truman and MacArthur probably felt that showing some compassion would educate and elevate the Japanese mind-set, but as we can all see, those altruistic efforts were wasted. The aggressive ignorance of the Japanese hasn’t changed at all since WWII.

  3. yeah sea cucumbers are not cucumbers from sea but real marine animals! able to move, to feel pain, etc! what humans eat sea cucumbers?! they are responsible and they must come and sign this. Stop overfishing of fish too! i think it’s more urgent! japan wake up please!! it’s disgusting, poor sea cucumbers oh my goodness, these humans eat and use everything and anything! especially asian humans! ask japan people to stop fishing it’s like ask chinese to stop Yulin festival and ask the COP! to stop ignoring the fact of farming on climate change= IMPOSSIBLE

  4. Richard Hofman Richard Hofman says:

    The Asians will finish everything what is moving on this planet…a grasshoppers!

  5. Lisa Zarafonetis Lisa Zarafonetis says:

    Signed & Shared.

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