Winner—Excellence in Environmental Practice
Sea Urchin Harvest's environmental stewardship and value to the national economy has been recognised by Seafood Excellence Awards; a project of the Sydney Fish Market to recognise and award the seafood industry's top achievers. Learn more about the award.
Sustainability of the industry relies on care and respect for our staff, for our reefs and for our marine life. We are one of the few businesses that truly can say ‘we are sustainable’.
The process of harvesting and processing and distributing Sea Urchin Roe is very labour intensive. We provide many jobs to regional N.S.W. Environment: By carefully harvesting Sea Urchin by hand and only picking the best urchins for market, we are helping to restore local fish habitat. By picking the best urchin and leaving the rest to fatten we also improve productivity of the fishery and quality of the roe.
And the consumer wins, as they can enjoy great tasting Sea Urchin Roe and know that they are helping create jobs and improve the local marine environment.
Wild sea urchin harvesting is the lowest impact fishery with absolutely no bycatch. A commercially viable Sea Urchin fishery is valuable in the restoration of the kelp forest, and fish habitat.
Sea Urchin Harvest has been dedicated to the environment since we launched in 2008. Our goal to restore the local kelp forests, seaweed forests, and fish habitats through a commercially viable Sea Urchin fishery has proven a great success.
Sea Urchin Harvest is a company that takes a positive stand for marine life.
The longspined Sea Urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii (Centro), is native to New South Wales and plays a key ecological role in determining the distribution and abundance of benthic macro algae, particularly kelps.
With a rapidly warming coastal ocean environment, the habitat-modifying Sea Urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii (centro or long spine Sea Urchin) has experienced a population explosion and ever increasing range , causing widespread destructive grazing of productive kelp beds/seaweed forests and causing a phase-shift to extensive sea urchin barrens habitat. This is devastating for our reefs and fish habitat.
The Centrostephanus rodgersii urchin is located in very large numbers up and down the south east coast of Australia. Its very destructive feeding behavior is characterized by dense feeding aggregations (or fronts) of large individuals migrating across the substratum at speeds of 1 to 4m per month, consuming all erect algae and creating barrens where Sea Urchins are able to live for decades with very little food supply.
The importance of the kelp forest for reproduction and survival of commercially valuable species of fish and crustaceans (abalone and lobster) is the reason why Centrostephanus rodgersii Sea Urchins are considered a pest up and down the south east coast of Australia.
When the Sea Urchins are removed from the barrens, by hand by our commercial divers, seaweeds rapidly colonize the substratum. Proving the invaluable importance of a commercially viable Sea Urchin fishery by improving the fish habitat.
In areas that have been commercially harvested for urchin, the kelp/seaweed forest regenerates in a matter of a year or two. Thus the productivity of the kelp forest is restored by a commercial fishery capable of significantly reducing the Centrostephanus rodgersii Sea Urchin population. The longs pined Sea Urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii (Centro or long spine urchin), is native to New
Overgrazing of native kelp forests. Centro recruitment increases as kelp is grazed and removed, transitioning once healthy kelp beds to incipient, patchy barrens and, with time, to more extensive barrens that are completely denuded and devoid of marine life. Once barrens have formed, recovery back to their previous kelp bed ecosystems is a significant challenge.
These barrens have serious impacts on the surrounding marine environment and wild fisheries shown that early, preventative urchin removal before urchin density reaches a tipping point (c>2.2 urchins m2) and barrens begin to form is an effective way to control the expansion of urchin barrens.
Rapidly warming coastal ocean environment, the habitat-modifying Sea Urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii (centro or long spine Sea Urchin) has made for a perfect storm conditions with a population explosion and ever increase range causing widespread destructive grazing of productive kelp beds/seaweed and causing phase-shift to extensive Sea Urchin barrens habitat.
Critically, when the abundance of Centrostephanus builds to more than ~2 individuals per square metre, productive kelp beds are collapsed to extensive urchin barren grounds.
Representing an alternative stable state of collapsed kelp beds, the impoverished barren grounds persist as urchins avoid eating themselves out of house and home by switching diet to feed on encrusting/ filamentous/ microscopic algae given that “an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure”, reefs with incipient barrens can be restored by a commercially viable Sea Urchin fishery.