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Commercial and recreational marine fisheries

Commercial Red Sea Urchin Landings

Orford reef

Landings history:

Red sea urchins, Mesocentrotus franciscanus, have been commercially harvested in Oregon since 1986. Landing peaked in 1990, when more than 9 million pounds were landed. Since the boom then bust of this new fishery on a virgin stock, the past ~20 years have been characterized by rather stable landings of around a half million pounds per year (Figure 1). Red sea urchins are Oregon's most valuable dive fishery and the third most valuable shellfish fishery, distantly behind Dungeness crab and pink shrimp.

oregon red sea urchin landings
Figure 1. Oregon commercial red sea urchin landings, note the >9 million pound peak in 1990, but also the persistance of a robust (~500,000 lb/year) fishery over the past 20 years.

Harvest locations:

Red sea urchins are harvested exclusively from kelp beds. 90% of Oregon's kelp beds are present south of Charleston, where about 90% of harvest occurs (Figure 2). By far the most important harvest areas are Oregon's two large offshore reefs; Port Orford reef just northwest of Port Orford, OR (~50% of harvest) and Rogue reef, just Northwest of Gold Beach, OR (~25% of harvest). Nearshore areas of Brookings, Port Orford, Charleston and Depoe Bay account for the remaining 25% of harvest.


Oregon coast profile

Figure 2. Key red sea urchin harvest areas in Oregon (kelp areas showen in green)


Scott Groth - Marine Resources Program, Charleston
Phone: (541) 888-5515


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