BANGOR — Late last month, the Department of Marine Resources announced preliminary landings figures from the 2017-2018 fishing season at a meeting of the Sea Urchin Zone Council. The news was good.
While the numbers remain subject to revision, landings for the just-ended season were higher than they were compared with 2016-2017, but the price paid to harvesters was down.
According to DMR biologist Margaret Hunter, total urchin landings were 2,131,921 pounds with an estimated value of $6.4 million, an average price of $2.99 per pound for the season.
Landings for the 2016-2017 season were just 2,091,533 pounds, but with an average price of $3.28 per pound, the landed value of the catch was approximately $6.8 million.
The season-to-season decline notwithstanding, the landed value of the harvest for the season just ended was still the second highest since the 2003-2004 season.
At 302, the number of licensed harvesters remained more or less constant compared with the past few seasons, but it has shown a steady decline.
A decade ago, there were 459 licensed urchin harvesters. At the peak of the fishery in 1994, the number stood at 2,725, including 1,725 divers.