R-12-12 From capture to culture: adding value to the sea urchin fishery with aquaculture

Nick Brown
Cooperative Aquaculture Research Institute
University of Maine


Sea urchins are harvested for their edible sex organs, known as uni in Japan and sushi restaurants, where they are highly valued. In the U.S., wild sea urchin fisheries exist in Maine, Southern New England, California, and the Pacific Northwest. In Maine, the fishery for the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis faces challenges that threaten long term viability and sustainability. The fishery could add value to the diminished resource by adapting aquaculture methods that increase yields and quality, and that can also be used to extend the marketing season and match supply to demand. In this project, Brown will test and demonstrate a commercial-scale, intensive land-based system for holding sea urchins at high densities while feeding them with wild and cultured seaweed. Over the course of two years, captured and aquacultured urchins will be enhanced, evaluated for quality, and marketed.

Two-year project, 2012-2014
National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative funds $215,003