The Center of Agriculture Services of Lý Sơn district has cooperated with the Aquarium Institute to investigate and evaluate resources as well as propose solutions to protect, develop and sustainably exploit sea urchins in Quảng Ngãi province.
5.7 million sea urchins
According to an unofficial statistics, there are about 100 boats exploiting sea urchins in coastal areas of Bình Sơn district and Đức Phổ town. An average of 300 sea urchins are caught by each boat per day. In Lý Sơn district alone, sea urchin exploiting areas are located around the island. Lý Sơn has over 150 fishermen exploiting sea urchins, mainly in summer. As many as thousands of sea urchins are consumed per day. It means that fishermen have exploited sea urchins uncontrolled, resulting in a danger of exhaustion of coastal resources.
Master Nguyễn Phi Uy Vũ working in the Institute of Oceanography said that the distribution density of sea urchins in Quảng Ngãi beach is 98 pcs/1,000 m², the highest distribution density is found in Lý Sơn beach with 132 pcs/1,000m² on average. The volume of sea urchins in Quảng Ngãi is estimated to be 5.7 million with nearly 3 million in Lý Sơn beach, 1 million in Bình Sơn district, and about 1.6 million in Đức Phổ town.
Successful trail farming
Experts experimented farming sea urchins in the land of farmer Huỳnh Ngọc Thảo in Đông An Hải village of Lý Sơn district. The 50m2 area, once a cobia farming tank, contains 54 rectangle cages, 60cm long, 40cm wide and 2m deep with 2,000 sea urchins being stocked. The sea urchin broodstocks were wild-caught, size 2-4mm. After eight months, sea urchins weighed up well without any disease detection, hence zero cost on medicines. The average weight of those sea urchins reached 115,3 ± 13,1g after ten months, a survival rate of 86%.
Thảo said that sea urchins adapted to the environment and weighed up well with Sargassum as their main food. Sea urchin adults are sold at 10-20 thousand dong each. The farming model of commercial sea urchins will help farmers increase their income, contribute to conservation and sustainable development of local aquatic resources.
So as to protect, develop and exploit sea urchin resources sustainably, experts from the Institute of Oceanography proposed some solutions such as positioning for protection, accordingly a position allow to catch sea urchins over 63.39mm, a position limits the exploitation during the breeding season of sea urchins (from November to April), and a position strictly prohibits the exploitation from January to April so as to protect and conserve broodstock sea urchins.
Farmers are encouraged to enlarge the farming model of commercial sea urchin in proper areas of the province by experts. They are suggested to work with broodstock production facilities to build a community management model with an aim to protect sea urchin resources.