University Putra Malaysia
Title: World Sea Urchin Fisheries: Their Current Status, Culture Practices, Management Strategies and Biomedical Applications
Biography: M. Aminur Rahman
Echinoids or sea urchins (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) constitute a group of exclusively marine invertebrates inhabiting the intertidal down to the deep-sea trenches around the world. The gonad of sea urchin, usually referred to as "Sea urchin Roe”, is culinary delicacies in many parts of the world. The roe of sea urchins is considered as a prized delicacy in Asian, Mediterranean and Western Hemisphere countries and have long been using as luxury foods in Japan. Japanese demand for sea urchins raised concerns about overfishing, thus making it one of the most valuable sea foods in the world. The population of the Asian Pacific Region has been using it for long time as a remedy for improving general living tone and treatment for a number of diseases. Gonads of Sea urchin are also rich in valuable bioactive compounds, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and β-carotene. PUFAs, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5) (n-3)) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA C22:6 (n-3)), have significant preventive effects on arrhythmia, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. β-Carotene and some xanthophylls have strong pro-vitamin A activity and can be used to prevent tumor development and light sensitivity. Sea urchin fisheries have expanded so greatly in recent years that the natural population of sea urchins in Japan, France, Chile, the northeastern United States, the Canadian Maritime Provinces, and the west coast of North America from California to British Colombia have been overfished to meet the great demand. Not surprisingly, the decrease in supply and the continued strong demand have led to a great increase in interest in aquaculture of sea urchins. Most, if not all, sea urchin fisheries have followed the same pattern of rapid expansion to an unsustainable peak, followed by an equally rapid decline. World landings of sea urchin, having peaks at 120,000 mt in 1995, are now in the state of about 82,000 mt. However, over half this catch comes from the recently expanded Chilean fishery for Loxechinus albus. In Europe, the sea urchin stocks (Paracentrotus lividus) of first France and then Ireland were overfished in the 1980s to supply the French markets. However, these decreasing patterns clearly reflect the overexploitation of most fishery grounds and highlight the need for aquaculture development, fishery management and conservation strategies. While the wild stocks decline, high market demand for food, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, increases the price of the product and thus, culturing is most likely to become commercially viable. As this review shows, there have been dramatic progresses in the culture techniques of sea urchins in the last 15–20 years; we can conclude that currently the major obstacles to successful cultivation are indeed managerial, cultural, conservational and financial rather than biological. Therefore, the fate of the sea urchin fishery is closely connected to that of the fisheries, whose fortune will ultimately depend upon the stock enhancement, culture improvement, quality roe production and market forces that will ultimately shape this growing industry in a sustainable manner.