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Law change will make it easier to ship Maine sea urchins

Maine’s the site of a fishery for sea urchins, which are harvested so their roe can be used as food.
Credit: AP
In this Dec. 22, 2011 photo, orange roe is seen inside a sea urchin at a processing facility in Portland, Maine. During the heyday, Maine urchin fishermen harvested more than 40 million pounds of the spiny creatures a year. A move is now under way to jumpstart the industry, which has fallen on hard times. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Supporters of Maine’s sea urchin industry say a federal law change will make it easier to ship the seafood out of state.

Maine’s the site of a fishery for sea urchins, which are harvested so their roe can be used as food. But members of the industry and some lawmakers have charged over the years that burdensome inspection regulations make it difficult to ship the product where it needs to go.

Former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and current Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree are among the lawmakers who have called for an ease on those burdens, which sometimes result in the seafood spoiling while awaiting inspections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says in the Federal Register that it’s amending regulations about importation and exportation of urchins to address the problem.