It happens that these areas are rich in pearl-shell, beche-de-mer, trochus, sponges, turtleshell, and other valuable articles of commerce.
Frank Moorhouse had been sent on the expedition by the Queensland Government specifically to study beche-de-mer, trochus and sponges.
There are 21 vessels, or 'company boats' as they are called, worked by the natives, in the pearl-shell and beche-de-mer industry, on the communal system.
From 1915 company boats began to focus more on the trochus industry, but boats shifted between pearl-shell, trochus and beche-de-mer depending on price and seasonal conditions, even though each product required quite different collecting and processing techniques.
Beche-de-mer, the product that brought the maritime industries to Torres Strait in the 1860s, was gathered in shallow water using small open sailing craft, usually referred to as whaleboats.
Beche-de-mer research and development in Papua New Guinea.
Evidence for a marked decline of bechede-mer populations in the Suva and Beqa areas of Fiji, and apreliminary description of a method of identifying beche-de-mer individuals based on characteristic-body wrinkles.
Local examples of beche-de-mer overfishing: An initial summary and request for information.
Beche-de-mer is exported from the producer countries to a central market such as Hong Kong or Singapore, and then is re-exported to Chinese consumers.
Beche-de-mer fisheries have a long history, as the Chinese have sought sea cucumbers for a thousand years or more in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines (Conand, 1986, 1989a, 1990).
The world beche-de-mer market is largely controlled by Chinese traders, and historical data from 1917 to 1986 were reviewed by Conand (1986, 1989a, 1990).
The beche-de-mer, trochus and pearl-shell fisheries continued to be the backbone of the region's economy, but the workforce became more ethnically mixed and included Europeans, Japanese, Malayans, Pacific Islanders and Torres Strait Islanders, as well as Aborigines and Papuans.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the beche-de-mer, pearl and trochus shell fisheries virtually collapsed and local unemployment rose.
The fishing industry has undergone something of a resurgence over the last 20 years, but nowadays it is based on prawns, crayfish, mackerel, trochus shell, live fish, and beche-de-mer.
During the 1950s, Torres Strait Islanders were hailed as `the foundation of Queensland's pearling, trochus-shell and beche-de-mer
industry' (Cilento 1959, 227).