Some populations of sea cucumbers have been overfished, which has an effect on the ecosystem. Overfishing has in some places reduced their role in breaking down organics on the ocean floor. Areas without the sea cucumbers have become unihabitable for other organisms.
Commercially exploitable species are mainly in the order Aspidochirotida. Large amounts of dried sea cucumbers are traded in Galapagos Islands to Asian markets, mainly Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Stocks have become depleted in these countries, so they have been looking for other sources.
Sea cucumbers in Baja California, eastern Russia, and the Galapagos Archipelago have been the focus of recent attention. In Baja California Isostichopus fuscus has been overharvested. In 1994, the National Institute of Ecology in Mexico declared that I. fuscus was in danger of extinction. In eastern Russia, increasing demand on Cucumaria japonica has led to concern for this species, which is harvested for both food and cosmetic products. Because of commercial exploitation in the Galapagos, Ecuador passed the Galapagos Marine Management Plan in 1999 to regulate conservation of sea cucumbers.
The Australian government is trying to seed juveniles of sandfish, Holothuroidea scabra which were reduced by overfishing.
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