Mexican red sea urchin: maintaining healthy stocks

Pronatura Noroeste and The Pacific Red Sea Urchin Fishery

Amount awarded: £50,000

This project aims to enable the Mexican red sea urchin fishery to become MSC certified by January 2025. 

At present, the government uses relevant fishery management tools and urchin stocks remain stable in some areas. However, different assessment approaches make understanding future health of stocks difficult. 

An initial pre-assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard found the fishery would pass most principles at the minimum level.   

Proposed improvements include: 

  • Modelling and monitoring stock assessments
  • Implementing habitat recovery actions
  • Establishing a working committee to help implement tasks and build capacity

Red sea urchins are mainly harvested by divers using hookah-type gear. The gear uses an air pump attached to a boat for divers to breathe through. The divers use hooks to dislodge the sea urchins – it's a highly selective method. The gonads of the urchins are sold in Asian markets, particularly China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as the U.S.A and cost around US$25-30 per kilogram. 

The Red Sea Urchin Fishery in Baja California is one of two fisheries receiving funding alongside conservation organisation Pronatura Noroeste. Pronatura Noroeste is a strategic local partner in the MSC’s Fish for Good Mexico project. The fishery's progress has been verified through the In-Transition to MSC pilot, an eligibility criterion for the award.


Overfishing is one of the biggest threats our oceans currently face. It is clearly a lose-lose-lose situation - the fishers lose income, the environment loses functionality, and consumers lose access to delicious and healthy food. Actions to revert overfishing including effective management and tackling illegal fishing are key to heal our oceans. Efforts by the MSC’s Ocean Stewardship Fund and Pronatura Noroeste are essential to restore the ocean and combat poverty.

Gustavo D. Danemann Pronatura Noroeste A.C.

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