ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Fisheries

From pest to payday: Japan cities try to tame sea urchin

Odawara feeds the critters scrap cabbage so they don't decimate local seaweed

Sea urchin is served on white rice. The creature can devastate the local environment if left unchecked.

TOKYO -- A city roughly 100 km southwest of Tokyo has come up with a new local delicacy: sea urchin raised on scrap cabbage and orange peels.

Sea urchins live double lives in Japan. As part of the national cuisine, they fetch high prices. But only a few coastal areas are believed to produce ones of sufficient quality -- and the rest are often exterminated because they can ravage local seaweed populations.

A fishing cooperative in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, is now raising sea urchins on scrap produce. It made its first shipment on July 5, delivering 400 to local restaurants and supermarkets, where they are sold for about 400 yen ($3.70) each. Shipments to elsewhere in Japan will follow.

Odawara's sea urchins are caught in the wild, then fed for three months. Industry insiders say the resulting meat is sweeter than its fully wild counterpart, and each piece ends up containing more edible portions.

"It has a gentle sweetness and flavor," said a seafood dealer at local supermarket chain Yaomasa.

The city of Odawara feeds scrap food to sea urchins for three months in captivity before shipping them out for human consumption. (Photo by Takumi Sasaki)

The goal is to quintuple production next year. "We hope to turn it into a local specialty," a city representative said.

The cabbage-fed sea urchins are also expected to boost local fishermen's incomes and help protect the environment. "They will push us to think about cultivating resources, not just taking them," the chairman of the Odawara fishing co-op said.

Communities in Yamaguchi Prefecture are experimenting with feeding sea urchins tomatoes, while those in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region are working with different types of seaweed and clover.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends April 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media