Seaweed Farming Around the World
There are many positive environmental, social, and economic benefits the cultivation of seaweed are contributing to today. Seaweed farming has played a major historical role in many communities and cultures around the globe, and the responsible scaling of this industry will lead to more sustainable development in the future. Let's take a look at the history and culture of farming around the world.
Farming in the Caribbean
The Caribbean contains hundreds of species of algae which are known by different names throughout the islands most often referred to as Sea Moss or Irish Moss. Majority of these species are a classification of Gracilaria or Euchuma which are most commonly found in this region. Traditionally used in puddings and drinks, the people of the Caribbean have a very highly regarded opinion about the nutritional benefits of sea moss. It is widely known for its immune system support, digestive healing, and most popularly used for fertility and sexual performance enhancement. Sea Moss is also traditionally used to make a special formula for babies and small children to drink. These algaes were wild-harvested and farmed for many generations, but did not become a commercially cultivated product until the 1980’s. Since then many farmers have begun cooperating to form associations to responsibly regulate production and collectively grow their businesses.
Farming in Africa
Along the coastlines of Tanzania and Zanzibar, seaweed aquaculture is an important industry to coastal women and also serves as an alternative livelihood to over-harvested local fisheries.Results revealed that, women conducting seaweed farming were improving their livelihoods which had positive impacts to their families and communities. Women produced 412 tons of seaweed in the year 2016/17 which is equivalent to 80% of the total seaweed production whereas men produced only 103 tons equivalent to 20% of the total production. In South Africa seaweeds have been farmed and used commercially as feedstock for phycocolloid production, for the production of abalone feed, and the production of biogas.
Farming in Europe
We have seen some of the earliest historical evidence of harvesting algae in Ireland. In the 19th century, algae (Chondrus Chrispus) was used as cattle feed, mattress stuffing, and thickener for colored inks that are used in printing. It was also used to treat respiratory ailments like pneumonia and tuberculosis, and became the primary source of nutrition during the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840’s. Today in Europe, seaweed farming ) has developed as an industry in some countries and coastal regions such as the Baltics. In recent years European policies have pushed for the development of this activity 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.
Farming in Asia
The use of seaweeds as human food in eastern Asian countries has a long history, stretching back over a thousand years. However, it was not until the late 1940s that cultivation of seaweeds in near-shore coastal areas began. In eastern Asia, modern seaweed cultivation became established in Korea, Japan and China roughly from the 1950s to 1970s. With exponential growth over recent decades, farmed seaweed output reached 24 million tons by 2012. However, just eight Asian nations produced 99% of that while most of the world’s 150 countries and territories with coasts were yet to begin seaweed farming.
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