Management of the Nova Scotia sea urchin fishery includes several unusual features: one license per fishing zone, fishers increase resource yields over natural levels by controlling the sea urchin-macrophyte cycle, fishers scale fishing effort to market demand, fishers map the resource in their zones, a reference point for good resource management based on a conspicuous habitat feature, an audit of zone management success, and low ongoing input from the management agency. The low mobility of sea urchins and the opportunity for the diver-harvesters to observe the resource directly make this fishery a good candidate for management by fishers. Variable sea urchin growth and reproduction on a small spatial scale and the high cost of stock surveys by diving make the fishery less suitable for government regulation. Fishing zones were allocated based on the length of feeding fronts (i.e., the deep edge of the macrophyte beds where sea urchins aggregate and where most harvesting occurs). Fishers and government jointly developed enhancement techniques to increase the length of feeding fronts. The reference point used to measure a fisher's success at managing the stock was based on the depth of these feeding fronts.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4