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Maine Studying Plan to Transplant Sea Urchins for Fishing

SOUTHPORT, Maine - Maine fishing regulators want to close an area to sea urchin fishing so they can evaluate a plan to transplant the spiny creatures.

A proposed regulation would close sea urchin harvesting in the Cat Ledges area off of Southport until May 1, 2018. State officials say they want to evaluate the success of transplanting wild sea urchins and hatchery-raised juvenile urchins.

The state says the transplant is a means of re-establishing a colony of "commercially viable urchins'' in an area that formerly supported a wild harvest. The Department of Marine Resources says urchins are now "commercially extinct'' in the area.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Augusta.

Maine urchins are harvested commercially because their roe is used in food.