- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine will start tracking its sea urchin fishery with a swipe card system in the fall.

Maine sea urchins are harvested for their roe, which is popular in Japan and domestically. The fishing season runs from September to March and recently ended.

State regulators say the card system will be similar to a program the state uses for its baby eel fishery. The cards allow the state to collect information about volume and price of urchin sales in real time. The state initially planned to roll out the system last year.

The next urchin season will be the same length as the season that just ended. Other rules governing the fishery will also be similar.

Maine harvesters collected about 1.5 million pounds of urchins last year - the least since 1987.

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