Phylum Echinodermata : sea urchins, starfish, brittlestars
and sea cucumbers
Sea urchins and sea cucumbers are
collected for human consumption in some parts of
the world, but not to any significant in UK waters,
where there is no recent history of consumption
of echinoderms and their collection is not covered
by statutory fisheries legislation. The edible purple
sea urchin, Paracentrotus lividus (Lamark),
which occurs in intertidal rock pools and in the
shallow sublittoral, reaches its northern limits
of distribution in the British Isles and is only
extremely rarely recorded in Devon and Cornwall.
The common or edible sea urchin, Echinus esculentus
Linnaeus, is very abundant in the shallow sublittoral
on most rocky coasts, but hardly ever occurs in
the intertidal. The gonads of both these species
are a delicacy in many southern European countries,
where there is a market for the species. The green
urchin Psammechinus lividus is common in
some intertidal areas, but is much smaller and not
known to be widely collected for food in the UK.
Trials are underway in Scotland to develop this
species in cultivation for markets in the Far East,
but collection from the wild is unlikely as supplementary
feeding in artificial conditions is necessary to
produce a marketable roe (D. Donnan, pers. comm.).
Burrowing sea urchins (e.g. Echinocardium
spp.) are locally common on many British coasts,
extending from the lower shore to deep water. These
fragile organisms are not used for bait or taken
as food, but intertidal individuals may easily be
damaged during bait digging activity.