General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Sea urchins

The purple sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) is considered to be one of the most important herbivores in the Mediterranean Sea and is a famous culinary delicacy in many countries. As one of the organisms defining the ecological system in the region, it has long been used as a model in developmental biology and as an indicator in the assessment of environmental quality.   

Sea urchins are very sensitive to environmental conditions, especially during early life stages, and they require intensive monitoring and special attention during the production process. The overall status of the sea urchin populations in the Mediterranean Sea is of concern. On a precautionary basis, pending formal stock assessments, sea urchins should be considered in need of conservation due to the impacts of fisheries and climate change, among other factors. Nevertheless, their numbers, spread and impacts are different around the region depending on local conditions and harvesting. For example, in certain areas, sea urchin populations have increased, resulting in seaweed overgrazing and the formation of barrens. 

GFCM ACTIONS

  • Collaboration with Urchinomics towards enhancing Paracentrotus lividus roe in the Mediterranean, also in partnership with the administrative services of Catalonia.
  • Collaboration with Echinoidea and the research institute Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn to develop pilot activities on sea urchin restocking in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.
  • Organization of the “Sea urchin and seaweed production and management: state-of-the-art and experiences in the Mediterranean” seminar on 4 October 2022 in Procida in collaboration with the Centre for services, assistance, studies and training for the modernization of public administration Formez PA, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies  (MIPAAF) and the Regional Government of Campania.  

RESOURCES