Fisheries Research Summaries

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

Key Points

front page of research summary NSW Barren report

  • 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.