AUGUSTA — A key Maine panel is scheduled to vote this week on a plan to track the state’s sea urchin fishery with swipe cards.

The urchins are valuable because of their roe, which is used in sushi. The swipe card proposal is subject to the approval of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Advisory Council, which meets Thursday in Augusta.

Maine urchins are the most valuable urchins in the country by price per pound at the dock.

State regulators want to create a swipe card system to record transactions in which fishermen sell urchins to dealers. Officials say the cards would help efficiently gather data about the fishery and eventually help give fishermen more flexibility about when they fish.

The system would be similar to the one set up to regulate the baby eel fishery. The first of its kind on the East Coast, that system was implemented in 2014. It allows regulators to monitor how many eels are being caught daily and shut down individual fishermen – or the entire season – if limits are exceeded.


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