Our Impact is global, benefitting many.
We’re inspired by the notion that Planet Earth is an interdependent living organism. And, like Planet Earth our Urchinomics model seeks to benefit a large spectrum of stakeholders as ultimately, we’re all interdependent.
Investors and funders
According to leading independent scientists and ecologists from around the world, human factors like overfishing, climate change and pollution cause urchin populations to explode and turn kelp forests into barrens. Scientists also agree that the removal of said urchins will have the most effect in promoting kelp forest recovery.
In the past, urchin removal and kelp restoration has been successfully implemented by divers in many urchin barrens around the world. However, in many instances, success is temporary as the problem returns when government or charitable grants funding such projects run out of money.
If the nascent kelp forests have not sufficiently recovered enough by the time funds run out, the nascent kelp forests will not house sufficient predators to keep the urchins population to a natural balanced level. Urchins will once again overwhelm the kelp and return it back into a barren.
This is how Urchinomics makes a difference. By putting a price tag on the empty urchins and commercializing them, we apply economic incentives to convince fishers to constantly apply fishing pressure on the urchins encroaching upon the nascent kelp. Urchins will continually be removed until the nascent kelp forest matures and carries enough predatory species to maintain ecological equilibrium.
We also aim to make urchin removal and kelp restoration efforts independent of government and charitable donations. By paying fair prices to fishers to catch empty, barren sea urchins, we can incentivize fishers to incorporate this activity as a part of their daily activities.
The Urchinomics business model aims to make urchin removal and kelp restoration a profitable venture for us, for fishers and also the environment.
The merits of fishing empty, barren urchins as a part time or full time activity has numerous benefits for licensed fishers and divers.
First, empty urchins are much more plentiful than high roe yielding urchins often found only on the feed line. They tend to be closer and easier to access, making the fishing relatively easier than hunting for high roe yielding urchins in kelp forests.
Second, as high roe yield is not relevant for ranching purposes, fishers do not have to fish when urchin biology determines when best to fish. Rather, fishers can fish when they want, and when ocean conditions are easier and safer for everyone.
Third, compensation by Urchinomics to fishers will be transparent, making incomes much more predictable. Typically, a fixed price will be paid to fishers for the quantity of barren urchins delivered. Then, a bonus will be paid in 2 weeks-time based on the survival rate of the barren urchins in our facilities. High survival rates will earn a higher bonus, and lower survival rates will earn a reduced bonus. As compensation is determined primarily by survivability and not something as unpredictable and opaque as roe yield, fishers can be more certain about their incomes, as well as positively influence their pay through improved fishing techniques.
Ranching barren urchins may perhaps be one of the fastest forms of value creation in modern aquaculture. Low impact ingredients in the form of a natural, plant-based feed combined with empty sea urchins can be turned into premium sea urchin roe in 6 to 10 weeks. Our shallow raceways for land-based ranching uses very little sea water. This in turn requires very little electricity to heat/cool the water to suit optimal urchin feeding conditions.
We anticipate the ROI on urchin ranching to be some of the highest within the aquaculture industry.
Aboriginal Communities and First Nations
Urchinomics is committed to bring the wide ranching economic, ecologic and social benefits to first nations and aboriginal communities around the world. Our partnerships structures are designed to ensure that the values and priorities of our partner aboriginal communities are respected, and a commitment to reinvest a portion of our proceeds back into programs to support the community.
(Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing )
The vast majority of Ezo bafun sea urchins caught, processed and consumed in East Asia come from unsustainable IUU fisheries in disputed waters between Japan and Russia. Despite continued efforts by both governments to crack down, demand continues to disproportionately outstrip supply, which continues to feed this destructive fishery.
By ranching and increasing the legitimate supply of Ezo bafun urchins in Hokkaido, Aomori and other northern Japanese prefectures, we can progressively reduce the supply from IUU fisheries, and all the risks associated with doing business with operators of illegal fisheries.
In terms of our wider engagement to sustainable fisheries, Urchinomics is working with certifiers like the Marine Stewardship Council to certify its fisheries as sustainable. We are also working with other certifying organizations to create new standards that better reflect our restorative ecological credentials
One of the greatest challenges for distributors interested in sea urchins has been consistency and availability of supply.
Wild caught sea urchins are vary in roe yield, flavor and color, making it traditionally difficult to guarantee the quality of the product being sold. Without opening the urchins, no one really knows for sure what the roe quality is, but opening the urchins makes them unsellable.
On top of this, sea urchin supply is often dependent on restricted seasons, fishing zones and weather conditions. Urchins cannot be predictably available, and supply cannot be easily increased or decreased based on market fluctuations because of the nature of the fisheries.
Our aim is to provide distributors a predictable supply of consistent, quality urchins precisely when distributors want product. Through our proprietary ranching techniques, we are able to turn barren, empty urchins into near perfectly consistent products with identical color, flavor and roe yield within 6 to 10 weeks. Given the short ranching cycles, we can better adjust to demand spikes and increase/decrease production accordingly.
Stable supply of ecologically restorative, high quality, ranched sea urchin year-round at predictable prices to distributors mean that it can become a permanent fixture on your menu. No more “at market prices” or “ask your server about availability” on your menus, and the inevitable disappointment that follows when prices are astronomical or unavailable.
Urchinomics bases its decisions on the best available science. We are therefore always interested in collaborating with scientists and ecologists who can help us better understand the complexities of coastal ecosystems. Currently, Urchinomics is involved in over 10, separately funded research projects around the world to further our collective knowledge of ecosystems, urchin biology and aquaculture techniques.
The Urchinomics approach can fundamentally change management practices for urchin stocks. Urchin fisheries become less dependent on biological conditions and can better adjust to market demand, maximizing economic value of the stocks while still managing the biomass sustainably.