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A large potential for Greenland

Global overfishing has left Greenland in a favourable position as a possible producer of green sea urchins. With support from NORA (Nordic Atlantic Cooperation), Nofima Marin, together with Greenland interests, has carried out a quantity and quality assessment of green sea urchins in Sisimiut Municipality in Greenland.

One of the world's best paid

Sea urchins are a sought-after seafood product, and given the right quality they are also one of the world's best paid seafood products. When harvesting sea urchins, only the gonad content (roe) is of economic interest.

Nofima Marin has been working on the harvesting, raw enhancement and processing of wild-captured sea urchins since 1985. The purpose of the raw enhancement has been to increase the gonad content and ensure regular quality.

An unexploited resource

Sea urchins are a largely unexploited resource in Greenland. In the autumn of 2007, Nofima Marin carried out a charting and quality assessment of sea urchins in Sisimiut Municipality. The charting exercise showed that harvestable stocks of green sea urchins exist in several areas of the municipality, which indicates that the harvesting potential is relatively large.

In order to succeed in establishing a sustainable commercial activity based on green sea urchins, harvestable stocks and gonad quality are two important areas of focus. Wild green sea urchins must be harvested where they have sufficient access to kelp forests otherwise raw enhancement is required.

Careful harvest

The harvesting of the sea urchins must be tightly regulated as sea urchins in Greenland grow slower and are sexually mature later than, for instance, in Norway. Based on experiences in other countries, it is advisable that a regulatory scheme is implemented to limit the number of vessels and companies that are granted harvesting rights.

The collaboration Nofima/Greenland has applied to NORA for a continuation of the project to study the logistics from harvest to market.

For more information, please refer to report no. 11/09 "Quantity and quality assessment of green sea urchins in inshore areas of Sisimiut Municipality in Greenland". (The report is in Norwegian language only.)

Sisimiut, Grønland Photo: Sten Siikavuopio
Copyright: Nofima

Sisimiut, Grønland