Lead Agency: Dr John Keane,  Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)

End Date: 1 March 2020


Aims and Objectives:

Urchin harvesting is currently the most significant control measure utilised to mitigate the spread of urchin barrens. Over $550k in subsidies provided to the industry since 2016 has resulted in over 700t of urchin being landed. Of this, approximately 500t is waste, which comprises shells, spines, guts and liquid moisture. Dumping costs are currently in excess of $200t equating to $100k spent on disposal thus far. Eliminating dumping costs and turning the waste into a saleable product is an obvious means to increasing industry profitability and decreasing the need for a subsidy. The aim of this project is to establish commercial processing of urchin waste, and test two key waste streams as an agricultural product on commercial crops: dried solids as a soil conditioner/fertiliser, and liquids to use as a foliar spray to enhance frost resistance.

Update 23/06/21

A commercial-scale waste processing machine has been installed and commissioned at True South Seafoods. A first trial run of waste from 2.1 tonnes of harvest was conducted and the resultant product is currently being analysis for its biochemical composition. Further work is underway to determine requirements to meet Australian Standards to facilitate retail sale. Plant growth trials using urchin processing waste on commercial crops are set to commence in spring 2021.

Featured image: Scott Ling, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

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