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.

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