Development of a Hatchery System for Sea Urchins in the Gulf of Maine
|Petra Bertilsson-Friedman||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Kinsey Frick||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Chad Sisson||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Megan Tyrrell||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Suchana Chavanich||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Jennifer Dijkstra||Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve|
|Lauralyn Dyer||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
The principal focus of this study is to develop a system for growing large batches of urchins from initial spawning through metamorphosis to a size at which they can be out planted for stock enhancement or aquaculture. The emphasis will be on developing a system to raise larvae utilizing natural plankton as a primary nutrition source and to investigate the potential of a microalgal film for juvenile grow out. These techniques utilizing natural food sources in open systems will be compared with more conventional closed cultivation systems developed in Japan in parallel cultivation experiments.
The continuous decline in urchin harvests and a parallel decline in urchin recruitment suggests that hatchery production of young urchins to supplement natural recruitment is a worthwhile goal. Preliminary results indicate the feasibility of hatchery production of green sea urchins and the extensive coastline of Maine should support a sustainable, major fishery for sea urchins with stock enhancement as a management technique.
1) To develop a hatchery system for green sea urchins to provide young urchins for stock enhancement or aquaculture
2) To develop a larval cultivation system that maximizes survival and growth to metamorphosis by utilizing a flow-through system and natural plankton as a primary food source
3) To investigate the potential of an algal film as the primary diet for juvenile urchins to the point of out planting
An open, flow-through larval cultivation system utilizing natural plankton provided by selective screening will be refined and compared with a closed cultivation approach developed by the Japanese. A grow out system utilizing a diatom film will be developed and tested against conventional diets for producing juvenile urchins of 10 mm or more in one year for winter out planting.
Preliminary studies have shown that natural diets for both larvae and juveniles can be effective, but further studies are needed to refine the systems and to make direct comparisons with conventional, closed cultivation approaches as to effectiveness, reliability and relative cost.
The fishery for green sea urchins in the Gulf of Maine has shown a steady decline in catches since 1993. More recent studies have shown a comparable decline in recruitment of juveniles into benthic communities. The very low recruitment in the northeastern Gulf of Maine, combined with declining recruitment in the southwestern portions, suggest that hatchery systems for producing young urchins for stock enhancement is a desirable management option. Conventional closed hatchery systems similar to those used in Japan are too expensive to develop without significant government or commercial investment.
The goal is to develop an effective and repeatable larval and juvenile cultivation system that can be adopted by local fishermen's cooperatives to produce small urchins for out planting in a cost effective manner.
Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant
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