Research database

Project information
Keywords
ECOURCHIN
Project title
Sea urchin harvest: ecosystem recovery, integrated management of social-ecological system, ecosystem service and sustainability
Year
2015
Project leader
Wenting Chen (NIVA) and Hartvig Christie(NIVA)
Participants

Norsk Institutt for Vannforskning (NIVA): Wenting Chen, Hartvig Christie, Phil Wallhead (programing advisory)

The Arctic University of Norway (UiT): Claire Armstrong

Norfima: Phil James, Sten Siikavuopio

University of California, Berkeley (advisory):Peter Berck

 

Flagship
MIKON
Funding Source

MIKON - research theme 3: "Impacts of industrial development on ecosystem services and social-ecological systems in the North".

Summary of Results

 

The first year of the project mainly involved the following work and results.

 

  • Qualitatively identifying the environmental impact of urchin harvesting and the relevant ecosystem services which may be affected from literature review.  Several potential impacts were identified, i.e. food production service (cod and other commercial fishery), cultural regulation service (diving, recreational fishery), and carbon regulation service (carbon storage in the kelp biomass), other services like wave damping, water cleaning . The results were obtained by collaborating “Sea urchin-kelp” project in Flagship “Fjord and coast”.

  • By reviewing the results from other flagship project we do find that urchin density, size, and roe quality vary with distance to kelp. The green sea urchin aggregate, and the largest individuals (test diameter about 50-60 mm) can aggregate in densities between 50 and 100 per m2 close to kelp vegetation. Data from Vega show that sea urchins grow faster and develop larger gonads close to kelp. Resent unpublished results from Porsanger (Finnmark) revealed 5 times higher gonad weight close to kelp than far from kelp vegetation. Gonad index vary with season, but in autumn, sea urchins close to kelp vegetation may reach size and gonad index ready for marked quality. Detailed results are shown in the following two tables.

     

     

    Table 1: Density and size distribution of sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, recorded quantitatively by SCUBA at different types of substrates. At some locations estimates were not recorded (na).

     

    Area

    Substrate type

    Density (n/m2)

    Mean size (mm)

    Size range (mm)

    Vega

     

     

     

     

    Torghatten

    rocky surface

    9

    33

    7-50

    Torghatten

    maerl beds

    241

    6

    2-12

    Rørøy

    maerl beds

    0

    na

    na

    Søla

    rocky surface

    44

    18

    4-35

    Sandøy N

    cobble stones

    79

    24

    8-44

    Sandøy N

    rocky surface

    21

    33

    11-44

    Andholmen

    rocky surface

    20

    23

    13-46

    Andøy

    rocky surface

    24

    25

    9-46

    Skogsholmen

    rocky surface

    42

    28

    11-54

    Skogsholmen

    rocky surface

    25

    25

    14-49

    Skogsholmen

    cobble stones

    81

    26

    10-47

    Skogsholmen

    maerl beds

    142

    11

    3-19

    Tuvøy

    rocky surface

    15

    22

    10-44

    Tuvøy

    cobble stones

    2

    19

    9-37

    Igerøy

    kelp holdfast

    0

    na

    na

    Arctic circle

     

     

     

     

    Hestmann

    rocky surface

    26

    16

    4-31

    Lofoten

     

     

     

     

    Lyngvær

    rocky surface

    19

    40

    2-63

    Lødingen

    rocky surface

    14

    38

    9-61

    Tysfjord

    rocky surface

    36

    35

    21-48

    Troms

     

     

     

     

    Meløyvær

    rocky surface

    8

    44

    9-60

    Løksefjord

    rocky surface

    35

    27

    10-46

    Musvær

    rocky surface

    64

    29

    9-46

    Kvalsund

    cobble stones

    23

    26

    13-48

    Buvika

    rocky surface

    21

    23

    5-49

    Buvika

    maerl beds

    575

    16

    2-63

    Leirpollen

    maerl beds

    150

    12

    2-19

    Leirpollen

    rocky surface

    82

    20

    9-31

    Leirpollen

    rocky surface

    23

    18

    7-34

    Hyseskjær

    maerl beds

    716

    6

    1-14

    Humpen

    maerl beds

    725

    5

    1-15

    Humpen

    rocky surface

    17

    24

    7-44

    Lemmingsver

    kelp holdfast

    na

    8

    3-14

    Flua

    kelp holdfast

    na

    8

    3-17

    Senja, inner

    kelp holdfast

    na

    7

    3-13

    Senja, outer

    kelp holdfast

    na

    10

    5-17

    Porsanger

     

     

     

     

    Hamnholmen

    rocky surface

    56

    45

    17-63

    Hamnholmen

    cobble stones

    23

    30

    9-51

    Veineset

    cobble stones

    37

    29

    4-68

    Hamnholmen

    cobble stones

    45

    30

    3-69

    Hamnholmen

    rocky surface

    154

    45

    25-58

    Kongsfjord

     

     

     

     

    WP 298

    maerl beds

    1225

    6

    3-16

    WP 325

    maerl beds

    175

    9

    2-32

    WP 353 (Kua)

    cobble stones

    21

    21

    2-64

    WP 357

    rocky surface

    79

    31

    3-54

    WP 357

    cobble stones

    101

    15

    3-58

    WP 356

    rocky surface

    58

    34

    16-49

    WP 356

    cobble stones

    45

    21

    7-50

    WP 358

    maerl beds

    629

    5

    2-28

    Kirkenes

     

     

     

     

    WP 54

    cobble stones

    20

    32

    8-62

    Kjelmøy

    cobble stones

    103

    14

    4-37

    Kjelmøy

    cobble stones

    18

    28

    4-60

    Kjelmøy

    cobble stones

    71

    na

    na

    Kjelmøy

    rocky surface

    0

    na

    na

    WP 89

    cobble stones

    na

    10

    6-26

    WP 89

    kelp holdfast

    na

    7

    3-13

     

     

     

     

    Table 2: Average data (with StDev) on sea urchin density on different depth levels, sea urchin diameter and gonad index, total cover of macroalgae on three depth levels. Data from before experiment (2005) and on treated and control stations after treatment with quicklime (2010 and 2011). Number of replicate stations sampled for each measurement is mainly between 4 and 14.

     

     

    Control sites 2005

    Control sites 2010

    Quiclime sites 2010

    Control sites 2011

    Quiclime sites 2011

    Harvest site 2010

    Sea urchin density 0m n/m2

    43 (33)

    41 (23)

    1 (2)

    34 (34)

    3 (5)

    0

    Sea urchin density 2m

    45 (23)

    35 (15)

    15 (19)

    54 (25)

    46 (34)

    6

    Sea urchin density 5m

    37 (13)

    23 (17)

    16 (12)

    20 (8)

    21 (8)

    19

    Mean Sea urchin diameter (mm)

    38

     

     

    38

    43

    49

    Sea urchin gonad index (%)

     

     

     

    4.8

    13.6

    7.2

    Macroalgal cover 0 m (%)

    19 (18)

    19 (28)

    85 (33)

    22 (16)

    74 (26)

    100

    Macroalgal cover 2 m

    4 (10)

    1 (1)

    63 (40)

    0

    27 (8)

    64

    Macroalgal cover 5 m

    0

    14 (13)

    31 (31)

    13 (12)

    31 (16)

    23


     

     

     


 

  •  We then developed a simple bioeconomic model to quantify how much economic value of urchin harvesting will be over the years under the harvesting scenario "repeated harvest of sea urchins on barren grounds”. It is a social planner model for harvesting urchins on the barrens. The model considers the regime shift between barrens and kelp forests and follows deZeeuw (2014) and Wilen and Sanchirico (1999). All the relevant data for the modelling were collected and the simulations are carried out to obtain the economic benefits from long term sustainable harvesting.  As no cost data on urchin farming and harvesting available this year, we only calculated the gross revenue of the urchin harvesting when harvest is done from barrens. Our result shows that the maximum sustainable yields could be up to 0.81 mill tonne per year if we do not consider harvesting capacity constraints. With the current harvesting capacity constraints, the maximum harvesting is estimated to be 0.5 mill tonne per year.   If we assume the wet raw urchins are sold at a fixed market price at 48 NOK/kg before farming, the gross annual revenue without considering harvesting costs will be 39000 million NOK per year. As costs and capacity constraints are not considered in the model this year, we should treat the number of revenue carefully. Further study in the coming two years is needed.

 

For the Management

 

Sea urchin harvesting industry is still at the cradle stage in Norway.  While in the past two years, urchin harvesting has caught more and more attention in the research world (e.g. EU project: ResUrch and the Northern Peripheries and Arctic pre-project (Sea urchin fishing in the European Northern Periphery Area).  Long coast line with abundant sea urchin population in the North and the high demand in the international market provide a unique potential for Norway to develop large scale urchin harvesting.  The increasing sea urchin demand and the shortage of sea urchins supply in the world market provide Norway with a unique opportunity to develop a profitable sea urchin harvesting industry. Developing sea urchin industry in Northern Norway will not only affect local economy and ecosystem services, but also have effects on marine ecosystem and habitats in the northern coastal region. The project establishes a knowledge base for estimating the effects of a potential sea urchin harvesting industry on ecosystem and habitat recovery and the effects on ecosystem services and economy in the local communities, and to develop an integrated management strategy for social-ecological system and sustainable industry development. The proposed project is the first comprehensive study on ecological and economical sustainable industry development of sea urchin harvesting with consideration on how urchin harvesting will affect kelp-urchin dynamics and marine ecosystems as well as its impact on ecosystem services and economy in the Northern Norway. The knowledge is highly demanded by both local  fishery management , national and international environmental NGOs as well as the publics.

 

Published Results/Planned Publications

 

No manuscript has been submitted in the first year as most of the work are on the ecosystem impacts identification and constructing the bioeconomic model for urchin harvesting.

 

Communicated Results

 

Project results have been communicated both within project group and to the local and international stakeholders as well as general publics.

 

A pre-kick-off meeting between NIVA and NOFIMA on 12 March 2015: discuss the synergy between ECOURCHIN and URCHIN (EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Program). Data and results sharing among the two projects were agreed upon.

 

·        Kick-off meeting on 4 May 2015: The kick-off meeting was hold via skype due to the limited funding this year. NOFIMA, UiT and NIVA discussed the plan for the project this year and each institute. Action plan was made during the meeting. UC Berkeley was in a roll of consultancy this year due to the budget limit.

 

·        Discussion on economic modelling was done via two meetings on 20 May and 11 June in Tromsø between NIVA and UiT.

 

·        Dissemination 1: ECOUCHIN project idea is promoted among Norwegian and international urchin harvesters from Finland, Scotland and Canada during the NOFIMA URCHIN (EU) prject kick-off meeting on 19 May in Tromsø Local industry on urchin industry.

 

·        Dissemination 2: NIVA is collaborating with Kaston International, an industry partner who interested in urchin harvest and aquaculture to further promoting the idea to e.g. USA, Hellas, Japan and Netherland.

 

·        Dissemination 3: ECOURCHIN project was NIVA flagship project on Oslo Forskningstoget on 18-19 Setember. The idea of “sustainable harvesting/eating sea urchins and saving the kelp forest” were presented to the general public particularly school children.

 

·        Dissemination 4: Part of the results will be presented at Fram Science Day in November 2015.

 

·        Dissemination 5: An article on Aftenposten of the project is under preparation, a NIVA report and a manuscript.

 

·        Dissemination 6: Another  seminar  had be hold in Tromsø in November 2015 where results and project idea has been presented within the project group.

 

 

 

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

 

ECOURCHIN is a project cross several disciplines. The research team has expertise on biology, ecology, economics and geology.  During the first year, the project focuses on qualitatively quantify the potential ecosystem impact of urchin harvesting, the dynamic relation between kelp and urchin, and the bioeconomic model for urchin harvesting under one scenario. In 2016 and 2017, GIS map of future urchin distribution will be projected. Input will be used to predict optimal harvest of urchins when harvesting happens along the kelp forests. Socioeconomic benefits to the local community will be future estimated in details.

 

Budget in accordance to results

 

Funding from MIKON is the only funding for the project and has been essential to perform the studies planned in the project. There is no other funding sources.

 

Could results from the project be subject for any commercial utilization
No
Conclusions

 

No major conclusion can be drawn yet after only one-year pre project. Further results including optimal harvesting strategies under kelp-urchin dynamics could be expected in the second and third year.