Eric Lee runs Florida's sole sea cucumber harvesting plant in Ramrod Key. But now his business is pretty much set to fail. Back in February, we wrote about the state's clamoring to place limits on the amount of sea cucumbers that could be collected at one time. The reason? People in Asia have a folk belief that these sea penises can boost their sexual performance.
It's true. Sea cucumbers have become insanely popular in the East, particularly in China. In 11 countries, their populations have collapsed due to the fad, and overall, there are about 20 percent fewer of these creatures than before it caught on. Wildlife officials in Florida knew they needed to act. Even places like the Great Barrier Reef have been decimated by people's crazed desire for sea cucumber, which we guess is like a more holistic version of those terrifying pills you see at your local gas stations that's also not made out of crushed glass, drain cleaner, and Vitamin B-5.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission was supposed to impose harvest limits two months ago but delayed at the behest of Lee, who relies on the sea cucumber to make his living. While the proposed limit was 200 per day, Lee claimed he needed to snag about 500 of the slugs to keep his processing plant afloat.
After trying to come up with a compromise, the commission voted this morning to go with its original plan, which will go into place June 1.
"Sea cucumbers are vulnerable to overfishing due to their sedentary nature, which makes them easy to locate and collect, and because of their life-history characteristics such as their late reproductive age, their need for a dense population in order to successfully reproduce and their long life span," the FWC said in a statement about their decision. "They are also ecologically important, as they help cycle nutrients in nutrient-poor tropical reefs and oxygenate sediments."
But Lee just sees dollars signs when he looks at the Chinese water dildos. Given that they can barely move, they're pretty easy to catch. And before the FWC stepped in, he was able to scoop up as many as he could without permission. Now he'll have to come up with another plan -- perhaps hawking ExtenZe or Spanish Fly? We heard Spencer's Gifts might also be hiring.
"[The new rule] effectively, under current market conditions, puts us out of business," Lee said after the vote, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
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