The Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved an emergency ban on the possession of sea cucumbers amid reports that people are harvesting the animals in large quantities for commercial purposes.
The department said in a statement Friday that the ban will be in place for 120 days while an investigation continues. Gov. David Ige is expected to sign the emergency administrative rules, according to the statement.
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The results of the investigation will likely lead to permanent regulations for harvesting sea cucumbers, which are highly prized for medicine and food in some countries. Those regulations would also need to be approved by the governor.
Sea cucumbers are known to remove sediment and other material that can affect the overall health of Hawaii's coral reefs.