Aquaculture of the high value tropical sea urchin, Tripneustes gratilla

Southern Cross University

  • Project code: PRJ-006543

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Sunday, May 15, 2011

  • Project completion date: Monday, June 25, 2012

  • National Priority: NAP-Provide new and developing animal industries with regular and up-to-date market assessments


Sea urchins are a high value food product, with a current market value of approximately $AUD 9 per live sea urchin or up to $AUD 1000 per kilogram for roe (Tsukiji, Japan, Sept 2010). Increasing demand and collapsing wild fisheries are creating opportunities for commercial sea urchin culture. Tripneustes gratilla, a fast growing tropical sea urchin, is native to both Australia and Japan. T. gratilla has a high aquaculture potential and has established acceptance in the high value Japanese sea urchin market.
Recent breakthroughs in the larval culture and settlement techniques for Tripneustes gratilla at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) at Southern Cross University have enabled commercial quantities of sea urchin spat to be reliably produced. This has created an opportunity for sea urchin aquaculture research in Australia to be expanded to a commercial scale, providing information directly relevant to creating a profitable and sustainable sea urchin aquaculture industry for Australia.
This one-year project will establish key culture parameters (e.g. stocking densities, physiological tolerances, growth rates) essential for modelling the economic potential of the culture of Tripneustes gratilla in a land-based aquaculture system. This information is an important prerequisite for attracting commercial interest and funding for further development of a sea urchin aquaculture industry within Australia.


New and Emerging Animal Industries

Research Organisation

Southern Cross University

Objective Summary

The objective of this project is to establish a set of culture parameters for optimal production (growth, roe production and survival) of the tropical sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla. This will enable modelling of the economic potential of culturing this species.
The outcomes of this project will be the documentation of how growth, roe production and survival of Tripneustes gratilla in a land-based aquaculture system are dependant on:
-culture density
-water flow
– nitrogenous wastes (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate)
-dissolved gases (Oxygen, Carbon dioxide)