March 25, 2013

Study: Urchin depletion leads to crab abundance

Clarke Canfield / The Associated Press

PORTLAND — A new scientific study says Maine fishermen who harvested millions of pounds of sea urchins for the Japanese market depleted the spiny sea creatures, turning the ecosystem upside down and creating an ideal habitat for an urchin predator that has since flourished.

With fewer urchins around to graze the seaweed following heavy fishing pressure in the 1990s, kelp beds proliferated, providing an idyllic nursery habitat for Jonah crabs. When the crabs grew to maturity, they preyed on the urchins that remained and prevented their numbers from recovering.

The University of Maine's Bob Steneck led the research team for the study, which was published in the latest edition of the Bulletin of Marine Science. He says the urchin situation underscores the need for ecosystem fishery management.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)