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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

Love of sushi could help Calif. coastal ecosystem

October 28, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – America’s growing appetite for
exotic sushi may help preserve vanishing beds of seaweed seen
as an important part of the ecosystem along the California
coastline.

Diners in sushi restaurants are eating ever greater amounts
of sea urchin roe, known as Uni, creating a $23 million
industry in California for harvesting the creatures, the
California Sea Urchin Commission said this week.

The spiny echinoderms, a potential peril to swimmers
stepping on rocks, feast on kelp, which is dwindling along
California’s coastline.

Divers in the state now harvest 800,000 pounds of Uni
annually, the Sea Urchin Commission said, adding that it
expects growing consumer demand for Uni in the United States.