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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Short-term effects of levonorgestrel exposure on the reproductive system of the California warty sea cucumber (Apostichopus parvimensis) and potential repercussions on its fishery management


 Levonorgestrel (LNG), an endocrine disrupting compound that falls under the pharmaceutical and personal care products category, has become a contaminant of emerging concern globally. Like other steroidal hormones, LNG can enter the aquatic environment through wastewater treatment plant effluent and agricultural run-off and is expected to adsorb to the sediment. The California warty sea cucumber (Apostichopus parvimensis), an ecologically important epibenthic detritovore and an economically desirable fishery species of interest, may be affected by exposure to pollutants such as LNG. How a species reacts to threats in the environment—whether it be from the fishery itself, mortality events, or pollution—is data that can be incorporated into management decisions. There is little data on A. parvimensis available despite the economic demand for it, and there are limited regulations in place to manage its stocks in California. Conservation and fishery management use best available science to create policies and plans to keep fishery populations sustainable. This study aims to capture a snapshot of how short-term exposure of LNG can potentially affect gonad development in A. parvimensis and discuss how this could affect fishery management.

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