The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced an April 27 lottery to award 12 commercial sea urchin permits.
The commercial sea urchin fishery in Oregon is limited to 30 permits. When the number of permits falls below 30, ODFW holds a lottery to bring the number back up to 30. Twelve permits currently are available.
Permit applicants must be at least 18 years old, and many not apply if they currently hold a permit. Only one application per individual will be accepted. Applications must be received in the Salem office only or postmarked no later than April 15.
Applications are available from the Salem office only, and applications will be mailed upon request. There is a $102 fee for residents to apply and a $152 fee for non-residents to apply. The fee will go toward the permit cost if the applicant is successful. Unsuccessful applicant fees are refunded. Successful applicants will be required to purchase a personal commercial license within 30 days. Individual commercial licenses cost $82 for residents and $132 for nonresidents.
In order to retain a sea urchin permit, the holder must harvest 5,000 pounds annually. A total of 20,000 pounds must be harvested before the permit is eligible for transfer. If minimum landing requirements are not met and the permit has not been transferred, the permit reverts to the state.
In recent years lack of consistent markets and price have had a strong influence on the fishery. Sea urchin landings peaked at 9.3 million pounds in 1990 and since then landing have decreased sharply. In 2011, 588,000 pound were landed.
“The urchin fishery in Oregon is managed primarily by size” said Scott Groth, ODFW shellfish biologist. “This allows urchins some reproductive chances before they are harvested.”
Red urchins must be 3 1/2 inches or larger in shell diameter (not including spines). Sea urchins harvested in Oregon are processed and packed in California and shipped to markets in Japan and elsewhere as urchin roe, or “uni,” a common item found in sushi restaurants.
For more information on applying for a permit please contact ODFW’s licensing services, 3406 Cherry Avenue NE, Salem, OR 97303 or call (503) 947-6101 or (800) 720-6339 ext. 76112.