Sea urchin fishery and trade in Chile

Photo credit: ICSF

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Sea urchin in market in Chile



The inserted picture shows the cleaning of sea urchin

Chile’s sea urchin fishery ranges between about 40,000 – 60,000 tons/year which is by far the largest in the world and contributing by more than 50% of the global urchin production.

Sea urchin is fished through artisanal fishers and by divers. Fishermen may sell their daily catch into local markets for the tourist or other small scale specialist trade while some dive operations especially in the northern area may sell a part of their catch to large processors. Divers could work independently or employed by a processing company such as in the southern parts of Chile. In local markets, sea urchin is sold either fresh or frozen whereas prices are often set per dozen. It worth mentioning, that most of the Chilean urchin production especially from industrial operations is exported frozen to Japan.

It may be of interest to know that the minimum legal size limit for sea urchins in Chile is 70 mm test diameter (TD) as this size provides assurance that the urchins will have a chance to spawn at least once or twice before being caught. In addition to the size limit, there are other fishery management regulations related to sea urchin that target to protect the reproductive capacities of the stocks; these include closed seasons, fixed quotas, limiting the entry of divers, and others.



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