Currently there are small scale (<150 tonne p.a.) intermittent fisheries for sea urchins in the NPA. This is despite there being enormous sea urchin resources present in the area.
There are a number of challenges that have prevented the expansion of sea urchin fisheries in the NPA. These include environmental challenges to fishing, inadequate and inappropriate legislation and fisheries management and lack of technology and knowledge regarding sea ranching and roe enhancement of poor quality urchins.
Research to overcome these challenges has been disparate and there has been no transfer of knowledge between the NPA partner countries.
This project aims to gather the existing expertise from Norway, Iceland, Ireland and Greenland, together with knowledge from Canada and Scotland to optimise the fishing of high value sea urchins in Northern and Arctic areas.
Furthermore, roe enhancement technology for roe fattening to increase the value of low value sea urchins once they have been collected in the northern arctic regions will be developed in Greenland and Iceland.
The project would also investigate sea ranching to repopulate areas that have been extensively overfished in the past in Ireland.
Issues regarding the provision of adequate legislation and fisheries management will be identified and legislative organisations will be provided with the appropriate knowledge to provide sensible and sustainable management of sea urchin fisheries. The project will also estimate market needs for sea urchin roe as well as establishing logistic routes from the NPA to markets.
This project will enable SME’s to fully utilise their respective sea urchin resources. It will also empower Government and legislative bodies to create effective legislation to support these fisheries.
This in turn will create employment opportunities in both the sea urchin fishing, roe fattening and sea ranching industries as well as spin off industries such as value added products, transport, packing and marketing.
The URCHIN project is a transnational project that provides a robust platform for innovation, the creation of new technology and dissemination of new and existing technology and knowledge to relevant SME’s and government agencies throughout the participating countries.
This will stimulate the creation of a sustainable, lucrative and economically beneficial sea urchin industry in the NPA.