Resilience strategies, opportunities, challenges, and needs of the commercial red sea urchin fishery

By Heidi Waite

OST is pleased to share its newest workshop report, Social & Economic Resilience of the Red Sea Urchin Fishery: Summary of an OST Facilitated Workshop. The report summarizes findings from a half-day, in-person workshop hosted by OST and partners on February 9th in Fort Bragg, California.

As part of a larger project assessing social and economic impacts of the commercial red urchin fishery disaster due to environmental disturbances and kelp loss, this workshop aimed to foster bottom-up identification of resilience strategies from fishery participants and fishing community members. We convened a small group of 22 red urchin divers and processors, community members, and key state agency staff to 1) collaboratively identify and evaluate potential strategies to improve the fishery’s and the fishing community’s resilience to future environmental disturbances, and 2) discuss the opportunities, challenges, and needs for implementing those resilience strategies. The workshop report outlines a brief history of the red urchin fishery and the federal fishery disaster process, discusses the resilience strategies brainstormed by workshop participants, and highlights the opportunities, challenges, and needs for advancing those strategies.

As the report details, the workshop participants explored ideas spanning from expanding kelp restoration, developing flexible permit systems and fishery insurance, creating markets for purple urchins, and addressing port infrastructure needs while also highlighting a sense of urgency, funding and research needs, and the importance of supporting the next generation.

Moving forward, OST is engaging with key stakeholders and agencies to identify the most actionable resilience strategies and potential next steps. Analysis of fishery data and socio-economic interviews are ongoing. We will continue to engage the workshop participants, interviewees, and other members of the fishery and fishery community on how their ideas are being delivered to decision-makers. Stay tuned for a final report summarizing our full efforts highlighting resilience strategies and socio-economic research results!

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