A national approach to the longspined sea urchin

​Participants from across Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, Japan, the USA, and New Zealand met over two days in Launceston to discuss the longspined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii).

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), and the Tasmanian Government in partnership with the Tasmanian Abalone Council.  

The longspined sea urchin is native to New South Wales, arriving in Tasmanian waters in the late 1970s. Since its arrival, the urchin has decimated reefs and kelp habitat. Eastern Tasmania has lost more than 15 per cent of its rocky reef habitats and more than 95 per cent of its once verdant kelp, which has led to significant economic impacts on fisheries and tourism businesses.

The workshop, held from 1-2 February 2023, discussed:

  • the current state of management;
  • impacts and research;
  • commercial harvest opportunities and value adding;
  • other control mechanisms;
  • learnings from global experience;
  • a regional/integrated management framework;
  • challenges, and research and development needs, and
  • where to go from here.

Talks from researchers, fisheries managers, processors, recreational and commercial divers, Aboriginal cultural leaders, community organisations, and those with international experience gave perspective to the many opportunities and challenges of managing this high impact, range-extending species across different jurisdictions.

Participants at the National Centrostephanus Workshop in Launcesston

Participants at the National Centrostephanus Workshop held in Launceston

A key announcement from the workshop was the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, FRDC, CSIRO, the Victorian Fisheries Authority and Fisheries NSW will form a task force to develop a Centrostephanus business plan across the urchin’s south-east Australian range.

Members from the current Senate Inquiry into Climate-Related Marine Invasive Species which is considering how best to address urchin control in south-eastern Australia also attended the workshop.  They will receive the final workshop report to guide their investigation. More information on the Senate Inquiry can be found on the Parliament of Australia website.

Read more information about longspined sea urchin management.

Published on: 2/9/2023


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