Mexico: building a blue sustainable and profitable business around sea cucumbers

Mexico is a large country that has an exclusive economic zone covering an area of 2,715,012 km2. This is more extensive than the continental surface of Mexico, the North Pacific region being the most important in echinoderm fisheries. Sea cucumbers that are commercially fished, which include 42 species from around the world, are mainly consumed for the high protein content of the body wall and for their healing and nutritional properties.

In Mexico, sea cucumbers are extracted only for export, since they are not consumed domestically in any form. The Asian market is the main consumer, including via the important Middle East re-export centers. In Mexico, the extraction of sea cucumbers using different techniques has increased since the 1990s, bringing with it ecological, economic and even political consequences. The improvement and innovation applied in the management of the products contributes to adding value within the fishing industry and to being more competitive in global markets.

Biotechnologies are currently being developed for the transformation of this resource, which is considered to be one of those with the greatest potential in the world. These biotechnologies include: 1) processing and extraction of bioactive compounds with antioxidant activity, hormones, enzymes, lipids and peptides; 2) bioavailability; 3) extraction of collagen fibers for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry (dermatological and antiseptic applications); 4) constant processing of sea cucumber seed; and 5) identification of microorganisms in the intestine to facilitate the development of the species.

The biotechnology of sea cucumbers and its improvement in Mexico will contribute to the sustainable and rational use of the resource in a worthwhile manner, developed under an ecosystem approach, to recovering natural populations and to reducing fishing pressure. Coco Chavita as a company is committed to create an example that innovation and sustainability can get along in a high impact project.

For more information: Coco Chavita SAPI de CV,
Mariano Matamoros 38 Sur, Col. Centro, CP.82400, Escuinapa, Sinaloa, Mexico (dsimental@nektonbio.com).

Dr. Delia Rosalba Simental Crespo

Coco Chavita founder.

Dr. Francisco A. Solis-Marin

Laboratorio de Sistemática y Ecología de Equinodermos, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

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