Maine wants to get better and timelier information about the harvest of its sea urchins, which are the most valuable in the country, and it will begin doing so with a new swipe card system in a few weeks.

Maine sea urchins are harvested for their roe, which is especially popular in Japan and Japanese restaurants in America as sushi and sashimi. The swipe card system is similar to a program the state unveiled for its baby eel fishery last year.

The new card system will allow the state to collect information about volume and price of urchin sales in real time, said Maggie Hunter, a biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The season begins Sept. 1 and Hunter said the cards will likely be ready by October.

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