In Breaking Down the Urchin event we had a full boat of enthusiastic design week participants. The event was an opportunity to talk about the spiky problem with urchins in Port Phillip Bay and that while the anthropogenic root causes need to be addressed, some helping hand is urgently needed to allow seaweed habitats to recover.

In Port Phillip Bay and throughout the East Coast of Australia, the invasive sea urchin species Centrostephanus rodgersii and Heliocidaris erythrogramma have been exploding in numbers. Now, due to anthropogenic factors, these native and beautiful, yet voracious little creatures have the capacity to impact seaweed habitats and alter biodiversity. In those places where numbers are too high, harvesting sea urchins for human consumption is a particularly suitable food choice. Further, while our seas are being drastically overfished of species that cannot sustain themselves, this is a delicious and helpful choice that protects our oceans.

Using eyes, ears and stomachs, this event prepared participants with the knowledge, skills and motivation to reclaim our sea floors. Over a two-hour period, guests heard from artist Pirjo Haikola about her work and research on sea urchins. Guests then learned how to process and preserve sea urchin as garum (fish sauce) under the creative guidance of food researchers Long Prawn and fermentation experts Furrmien. Guests were be provided with a sea urchin roe snack and a cool beverage, as well as their own jar of sea urchin garum. Together, we will examine how we can creatively and consciously decide what food we eat.

Event co-presented with Long Prawn and Pirjo Haikola with in-kind support from Pacific Sea Urchin. Waterfront is proudly presented by Centre for Architecture Victoria | Open House Melbourne, in partnership with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and East Gippsland Shire Council. Waterfront is part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.


Pirjo Haikola and Fleur Watson at Breaking Down the Urchin
Furrmien instructing event participants in preparing fish sauce from sea urchins
Messy but sustainable way of making your own fish sauce!