Skip to main content


Blending aquaculture and conservation to turn an ecological pest
into a culinary delicacy and enable ocean habitat restoration

An 18-month kina
enhancement project

Our Kinanomics project seeks to create a high-value aquaculture industry from malnourished kina that not only creates job opportunities but supports the restoration of kelp forests and marine ecosystems.
There is no shortage of wild kina to harvest, with areas of New Zealand’s kelp forests overtaken by exploding populations of kina which have grazed the kelp down to bare rock, turning areas once abundant with kelp and marine life into barrens.
We’re exploring the viability of enhancing these wild caught kina from barrens in land-based aquaculture systems to produce a much sought-after seafood delicacy. Kina roe is highly valued in East Asian markets, with demand for the delicacy significantly exceeding global supply. The removal of the kina from barrens will enable the regeneration of coastal rocky reefs.

Maximising our impact
through collaboration

The Kinanomics pilot is being delivered in collaboration with a network of delivery partners.

EnviroStrat, an end-to-end natural resource sector advisor and impact investment project developer, is leading the pilot.

Ngati Porou Seafoods will leverage the already strong market links it has developed through its fishery exports over many years.

Urchinomics is providing IP, its proprietary feed, market access and experience in developing pilots elsewhere in the world. Aotearoa New Zealand is the latest country to pilot the Urchinomics methodology. Pilots at various stages of maturity are underway in Japan, Norway, the United States, and Canada.

How it works

The pilot is adapting methods developed by global restorative aquaculture leader, Urchinomics, and building on research undertaken by NIWA scientists and industry in the early 2000’s. 

The Urchinomics model involves the wild harvest of malnourished kina from barren zones, feeding them a nutritious, high-protein, kelp-based diet designed specifically for roe enhancement. The kina are fattened for 8 – 12 weeks in land-based facilities, before harvesting the roe for export to high-value markets.

Remove overgrazing sea urchins, which helps turn a barren seafloor back into a vibrant kelp forest.

Deliver premium ranched sea urchins (uni) to restaurants globally.

Restore oceans into vibrant ecosystems for the benefit of communities around the world.

Turning malnourished kina into a culinary delicacy

Our Kinanomics project seeks to validate the viability of enhancing wild caught kina in land-based aquaculture systems to produce a much sought-after seafood delicacy. We talked to our team of experts about what’s involved in developing a world-leading kina enhancement business.

Our Kinanomics project seeks to validate the viability of enhancing wild caught kina in land-based aquaculture systems to produce a much sought-after seafood delicacy.

Our project aims to develop a pathway to enable the commercial expansion of this new aquaculture industry and understand the impact on job creation and environmental regeneration.

From the outside, kina look anything but tasty. But crack open that spiky shell and you’ll find a seafood delicacy that’s highly coveted.

Restoring balance
to Aotearoa New Zealand’s
rocky reef ecosystems
is of paramount

Loss of kelp habitat alters the structure and function of our coastal reef systems, and impacts marine biodiversity, water quality, and climate resilience. 

We recognise that simply removing kina will not, on its own, restore perfect ecological balance back to our coastlines. However, urchin removal is recognised as an effective seabed habitat management tool, and has the potential to significantly improve and regenerate kelp habitats. Over the course of the pilot, we will explore opportunities to directly invest into active kelp regeneration. 

This will include exploring  ways to accelerate recovery by actively seeding out kelp into barrens. This work will involve a number of local and international kelp restoration experts.

Our funding partners

EnviroStrat, along with Ngati Porou Seafoods, the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFFF) fund administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries and other investors have contributed to funding the Kinanomics pilot.

Get in touch

EnviroStrat operates nationwide in New Zealand and regularly in the USA, India and developing nations throughout Southeast Asia.

Contact us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from EnviroStrat.