Fish and Game Commission Adopts Emergency Regulations to Increase Purple Sea Urchin Bag Limit in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

This is a press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)At its April 2018 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) adopted emergency regulations to increase the daily bag limit for purple sea urchins taken while skin or SCUBA diving off Mendocino and Sonoma counties only. Purple sea urchins fall under the general invertebrate bag limit of 35 per day, but the emergency regulations now in effect will allow a daily bag limit of 20 gallons with no limit on possession. The emergency regulation will remain in effect for 180 days (until Nov. 6, 2018) unless extended by the Commission. Upon expiration, the bag limit will return to 35. A recent explosion in purple sea urchin populations off northern California has prompted requests for increased daily bag limits as an option to reduce purple urchin numbers.  The increase in purple urchin populations is one of several extreme environmental conditions contributing to a widespread collapse of northern California kelp forests.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is collaborating with commercial divers, academic researchers and stakeholders to clear purple sea urchins in select test plots in order to study the effectiveness of clearing on restoring the bull kelp ecosystem. CDFW and its partners are working on permits and procedures to conduct controlled experiments to evaluate smashing compared to collecting purple sea urchins in these test plots.

CDFW reminds recreational participants that the new recreational limit allows urchin collection while skin or SCUBA diving by hand, and that there are regulations against waste of fish.  Recreational harvesters of urchin must put harvested urchins to use.  Smashing and disposing of sea urchins in the trash is still illegal.

Besides collecting purple urchins to extract gonads for eating, the urchins can make a good addition to compost material.



  • local observer

    more meddling means more problems. everything is cause and effect. we have no idea what we are doing.

  • This is a great idea, abalonie habitat has been taken over by purple urchins. They took out 7000 lbs from one spot at Caspar point. The baby abs were being choked out. The urchins that are taking over are not the big red & purple one they are the small purple ones(2-3 inch in diameter) . Very little roe. The red&purple big long spikes are commercially fished and sent off to Japan and other.

  • Sake of the abalone

    It should be unlimited. Kill all urchins.

  • Being an adventuresome foodie I tried some of those at the beach and the roe didn’t seem to be too tasty. As I remember it was a little bitter. Anyone else try them?

    • I’ve eaten plenty. They taste fresh and salty to me. Not much in each one though. Maybe it’s time to make some Humboldt brand urchin emulsion fertilizer.

    • Ceviche is the key, they still aren’t awesome but it makes them allot better and it’s really simple to do and not time consuming.

  • I doubt that DFW will site u for wanton wasting on urchins … Kill as many of those things as u can. Save the kelp and abalone!!

  • adventerous eater

    Hopefully local restaurants will take advantage of the lowered costs and make some creative urchin dishes! I will be happy to do my part by filling my belly with these pests.

  • They shouldn’t just raise the limit they should put a bounty on them, but that is the opposite of what DFW does they are revenue generators not vice versa.

  • If you don’t like the taste, the shells are pretty

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