Urchin Barrens | Oceanwatch Australia

This initiative seeks to control populations of the long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) which have fed voraciously on marine vegetation.

Populations of the long-spined sea urchin have exploded in recent years on the Australian east coast. The urchin barrens that form as a result of this pose a threat to native biodiversity and undermine profitable harvesting of C.rodgersii as a commercial species. OceanWatch has partnered with the NSW Abalone Association to manage urchin numbers and enhance the reef where these barrens have formed. The project also includes the development of and training in the Environmental Code of Practice for the Abalone, and Sea Urchin and Turban Shell (SUTS) fisheries.
Divers from the Abalone and SUTS fisheries are working to reduce the density of urchins at four urchin barrens (8 ha) in NSW until mid-2021. This can aid in enhancing seaweed habitats, thereby improving biodiversity, and can also improve remaining urchin roe quality as well as increasing the abundance of quality abalone.


All Sites are located on the NSW South Coast between Bermagui and the Victorian Boarder, the sites include:
  • Bermagui Blue Pools
  • Tathra: Cowdroys and Moon Bay
  • Saltwater
  • Disaster Bay


OceanWatch has worked closely with the NSW Abalone Association to develop a voluntary Environmental Code of Practice for the Abalone and SUTS Fisheries. This code has been endorsed by the industry peak body.
The Code of Practice is being extended into a training Package for SUTS and Abalone divers. The training is being rolled out in 2021.


This project is supported by OceanWatch Australia, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NSW Abalone Association
E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-14
E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-13
E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-15
Plague to Profit contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals 12, 13, 14, and 15 by taking action to restore areas of degraded rocky reef where sea urchins have overgrazed, strengthening the resilience of these habitats to climate change and natural disasters. The initiative provides training to industry to encourage the uptake of environmentally sustainable work practices and encourages industry to get involved in future planning and management to conserve natural resources.
Scroll to Top