These summaries are part of a series that aims to clearly summarise current research on topical issues relevant to NSW DPI Fisheries, stakeholders, and community members.
Research Summary New South Wales Barrens
- Longspined Sea Urchins (Centrostephanus rodgersii) are an important component of the rocky reef ecosystems in NSW.
- They have been commercially fished for over 50 years and form an important harvest of approximately 90 tonnes per year in the NSW Sea Urchin and Turban Shell (SUTS) Fishery.
- This species is currently classified as sustainable in the national Status of Australian Fish Stocks report, as the total harvest is only a small fraction of total biomass.
- C. rodgersii are the most dominant urchin species in barrens. While this habitat is often considered undesirable, in NSW they are a natural part of the rocky reef habitat and so have no specific current management.
- Barrens occur across most of the NSW coastline, but they tend to be larger and more numerous on rocky reefs along the south coast.
- NSW DPI have been characterising and monitoring shallow subtidal reef habitats, including barrens, since the 1980s and have found that barrens and C. rodgersii are a dominant yet stable feature of NSW shallow subtidal ecosystems.
- In NSW, there is no evidence of reductions in barrens areas or urchin numbers in Marine Park Sanctuary Zones despite significant and widespread increases in the abundance of urchin predators.