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Agriculture Farming Rural, Government Federal

Australia’s Great Southern Reef Eaten Alive by Invasive Urchins

CMC 3 mins read

Tuesday 26 March 2024


With ocean temperature records breaking every day for more than a year, and marine heatwaves simmering off the east coast of Tasmania keeping waters two degrees above average for months at a time, northern species are on the southward march with devastating impacts for our Great Southern Reef. 


Kelp forests cover one third of the world's coastlines, are vital to ocean food chains and the life cycle of hundreds of aquatic species, including species in some of our major fisheries. Centro Urchins, that normally reside in waters further north, are migrating southward and they are slowly devouring their way through ancient Giant Kelp Forests on the Great Southern Reef. 


A delegation of Great Southern Reef scientists and representatives from abalone and sea urchin industries, have travelled to Canberra with a plan for how to mitigate against invasive species as our oceans continue to warm… and they are bringing Centro Urchins with them, as their allure as a high priced menu item is part of the solution – politicians will be invited to taste the urchin roe, a seafood delicacy, which could be part of a multi-million dollar export industry and help to protect kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef.



Date: Tuesday 26th of March

Time: 11am for the presentation, 11.30am for Q&A 

Location: Parliament House - Committee Room 2S3


The Great Southern Reef media hub has quotes from experts and broadcast quality vision and high-res images available to journalists through its Great Southern Reef media hub


The following experts will be available for interview:


Dr Scott Bennett, marine ecologist at IMAS, University of Tasmania, is an expert on the impacts climate change has on temperate reefs, specifically the disappearance of the giant kelp forests around Tasmania’s coasts, which Scott is fighting to save. Scott leads the Great Southern Reef Research Partnership - a collaboration of scientists, managers and NGOs across Australia working to safeguard the Great Southern Reef. Scott is passionate about the role this social-ecological system plays within Australia and the threats it faces from climate change. 


Helen Burvill, Executive Officer, Eastern Zone Abalone Industry Association, VIC

Executive Officer, Eastern Zone Abalone Industry Association. Helen has over 34 years experience in fishery management in various fisheries and sectors across Australia. She is a Director of Abalone Council Australia and Committee member of Victorian Abalone Council and has been an outspoken advocate of change for Victoria’s sea urchin fishery management and for national support and recognition of the magnitude of the problem we have been dealing unassisted with.


Chris Daniel, Abalone Quota Licence Owner & Diver, Marlo VIC

Director and Owner of Sea Urchin Harvest in Moruya NSW. Also a family member of an abalone estate quota license. Chris and his wife have established a factory to process and export the urchins.


Ryan Morris, Director & Owner, Sea Urchin Harvest, Merimbula NSW 

Director and Owner of South Coast SEA Urchins and AWC Seafood in Pambula NSW. South Coast Sea Urchins is the largest shareholder in the Sea Urchin fishery in NSW and represents about 20% of the fishery. Also, his family owns NSW Abalone quota units and he has been an Abalone diver for over 20 years. Ryan’s factory processes sea urchins and abalone. He is a Director of Abalone Council Australia.


Dr Julian Amos, CEO Tasmanian Abalone Council, TAS CEO Tasmanian Abalone Council. Julian is in the fortunate position of helping to administer funds created in TAS for Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund (AIRF) and can attest to the benefits that providing funding can have for the abalone fishery as well as help to create an urchin fishery and restore kelp forests for the benefit of all marine species and users.Julian is a company director, and is a former member of the Tasmanian Parliament, and was for a period State Minister for Primary Industry, Energy and Forests.  He has had a number of roles in the fishery sector, in Tasmania (salmon, abalone), NSW and nationally (as a MAC chair).


Brendan Wood, Abalone and Urchin Commercial Diver, Mallacoota VIC  


Chris Theodore, Director & Owner, Sea Urchin Harvest, Merimbula NSW


Associate Professor Scott Ling, Marine Ecologist & Research Team Leader, IMAS Tasmania


Dr John Keane, Wild Fisheries Program Leader & Dive Fisheries Team Leader, IMAS Tasmania

For media inquiries, please contact Stefan Andrews, 0473 165 953 

Contact details:

Stefan Andrews - 0473 165 953

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