FRANKLIN – The University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research is looking to expand sea urchin farming throughout New England.
“We see sea urchin aquaculture as being an economic opportunity,” said Steve Eddy, director and manager of the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research. “I think it could be quite useful for farmers that are already growing seaweed or oysters because you can integrate sea urchins into those crops, and it gives the farmer a little extra insurance if the market isn’t good for the oysters.”
Their team, along with other researchers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island received a $100,000 grant towards this project. This grant was given to them by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center.
“What we wanted to do with that proposal was address one of the bottlenecks that we experienced with sea urchin aquaculture, which is the seed production,” Eddy said. “We want to produce seed for lower costs and more reliably and in greater numbers.”
“This is really about I would say ideas and knowledge,” said Dana Morse, extension associate for Maine Sea Grant. “You never know when you talk to someone, maybe someone’s got a piece of background that’s really useful, or they come to the table and say, ‘hey, I’d like to learn more, or I’d like to contribute somehow.'”
Eddy said Maine is home to the only sea urchin hatchery left in the northeast.
They hope more farmers will want to grow sea urchins.
“I want to see integration of farmed products in with seafood products because it doesn’t matter if you catch it or grow it. In Maine, it’s going to be pretty fabulous seafood,” Morse said.
To learn more about the project or get involved with sea urchin farming, visit the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research web page, or call the facility at 207-422-8918.