What is Seaweed?
Seaweed is a kind of algae that can only be found in saltwater environments. It is often used in the production of goods such as cosmetics, food, and fertilizer.
What is Seaweed Farming?
The idea of farming seaweed isn’t a new one. Seaweed farming first began in Tokyo Bay during the 1670s. Back then, farmers used tree branches and bamboo in coastal waters to encourage germination of seaweed spores.
Though this method of seaweed farming wasn’t always successful, the industry has continued to grow internationally throughout history.
According to Scienceline earlier this year, “China is the world’s leading producer of farmed seaweed, generating more than half of global production. In the U.S. and Europe, seaweed is farmed on much smaller scales – for now.”
Why Seaweed Farming?
Many individuals might wonder why seaweed farming should grow. After all, seaweed is only used for cosmetics, food, and fertilizer, right?
Wrong. According to ScienceDirect, “In recent years European policies have pushed for the development of [seaweed farming] as part of the European Union’s Blue Growth initiative. With this initiative, many countries provide subsidies to study the possibility of seaweeds in industry, especially their use in biotechnology.”
Biotechnology refers to the study of how the natural world can be utilized to improve the health of humanity.
The reduction of sea ice and the increase in global temperatures have already alerted many to the problem of climate change.
Could seaweed farming help reduce these issues? Perhaps if the industry further expands in the U.S. and Europe.
English Seaweed Farming Companies
According to Algapelago (a seaweed farming company operating off the shores of North Devon), “Every year, humanity is consuming natural resources faster than our planet can renew them.
“[We are] developing a range of seaweed-based, animal feed supplements and plant [fertilizers] to address these systemic issues.”
Along similar lines, SeaGrown (based on the Yorkshire coast) has the goal “to help the oceans recover, and mitigate the climate crisis” through seaweed farming.
American Seaweed Farming Companies
With the idea that good food should do good, Maine-based Atlantic Sea Farms “is a woman-run, mission-driven seaweed farming company [...] dedicated to making a powerful and positive impact on the health of [their] customers, [their] coastal communities, and [the] planet by creating delicious products made from regeneratively farmed sea greens.”
Another company, called Seagrove Kelp Co., is located in Doyle Bay, Alaska. It operates with the goal to boost “kelp’s tremendous nutritional value [since the] process of growing kelp enhances the water around it, is a counter agent to ocean acidification and is the most sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly agriculture on the planet.”
Will Seaweed Farming Be Utilized More?
According to an article from Somini Sengupta for The New York Times, throughout the world, “seaweed production has grown by nearly 75 percent in the past decade.” The seaweed farming industry has reached places such as Australia and the Faroe Islands, but is it enough?
And furthermore, is it possible to increase production?
With factors such as steadily heating waters and the possibility that an increase in seaweed farming could affect the ecosystems of ocean creatures, it’s obvious that production should be done with care.
For now, we’ll see if the seaweed farming industry continues to spread outside of Asia.
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