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Maine Urchin Industry Seeks Regulatory Relief

AUGUSTA, Maine - Representatives of Maine's urchin and sea cucumber industries went before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee today seeking the same inspection standards as those for lobster and shellfish.

Atchan Tamaki, Founder of ISF Trading, Inc. in Portland, says inspection by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials is hurting the industry.

"Maine's entire annual urchin harvest for all domestic consumption and export is worth about $5.4 million," Tamaki said. "But each shipment requires the payment of over $225 in fees to Fish and Wildlife."

Both Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Bruce Poliquin are co-sponsoring the legislation and testified before the committee. They argue that urchins and sea cucumbers do not need the extra layer of inspection, which is not required of other Maine seafood exports.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.