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Current status of global cultivated seaweed production and markets

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Abstract

The global seaweed processing industry is estimated to utilise some 10 - 12 million tonnes of seaweeds (frozen weight) annually, sourced from ‘wild harvest’ or cultivated in on-shore and off-shore farms. Bulk of the seaweed produced globally is from aquaculture, categorised as cultivated production (FAO, 2012; Figure 1). Wild harvest of seaweeds only accounted for about 4.5% of the total seaweed production in 2010. While the cultivated seaweed production has grown by about 50% in the last 10 years, seaweeds harvested from the wild have declined significantly from about 1.2 million tonnes in 2000 to about 0.9 million tonnes in 2010. Even with seaweed farming growing rapidly over the last 10 years, the global demand for seaweed based products has surpassed supply (Lee 2008). There is a large and diverse array of applications and uses of macroalgae products. The seaweed industry is estimated to have an annual value of some US$6 billion and the largest share of this is for food products (McHugh 2003). It is estimated that US$5 billion of this is used for human consumption. The other US$1 billion is largely based upon extracting seaweed products such as hydrocolloids for use in products such as animal feeds and fertilizers, bioactives, etc. (Table 1; Lee 2008). It is estimated that at least 221 species of seaweeds are utilised globally, with 145 species for food and 101species for phycocolloid production. These seaweed species included 32 Chlorophytes, 125 Rhodophytes and 64 Phaeophytes (Zemke-White and Ohno, 1999). Approximately 10 species are intensively cultivated, particularly the brown algae Laminaria japonica and Undaria pinnatifida and the red algae Porphyra spp., Porphyra tenera, Eucheuma spp., Kappaphycus alvarezii and Gracilaria spp., Gracilaria verrucosa (Wikfors and Ohno, 2001). Access to the limited statistics on seaweed production is largely dependent on the annual publications of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) such as ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’. The latest report published in 2012 only comprises of production statistics in 2010 with market data from 2009. FAO has acknowledged the shortcomings as it is continually reliant on the respective countries for the provision of the data, with production statistics often revisited and revised (Buchholz et. al., 2012). The purpose of this article is to review the latest published literature on global seaweed production statistics and tease out the finer details of this unique resource.
32 JUNE 2014 WORLD AQUACULTURE WW W.WAS.ORG
The global seaweed processing industry is estimated to
use some 10-12 million t of seaweeds (frozen weight) annually,
collected as ‘wild harvest’ or cultivated in offshore and onshore
farms. The bulk of seaweed produced globally is from aquaculture,
categorized as cultivated production (FAO 2012, Fig. 1). Wild
harvest of seaweeds only accounted for about 4.5 percent of total
seaweed production in 2010. While cultivated seaweed production
has grown by about 50 percent in the last decade, seaweeds
harvested from the wild have declined from about 1.2 million t in
2000 to about 0.9 million t in 2010.
Even with seaweed aquaculture growing rapidly over the last
decade, global demand for seaweed-based products has surpassed
supply (Lee 2008). There is a large and diverse array of applications
and uses of macroalgal products. The seaweed industry is estimated
to have an annual value of some US$6 billion, the largest share of
which (US$5 billion) is human food products (McHugh 2003). The
remaining US$1 billion is largely based on seaweed extracts, such
as hydrocolloids for use in animal feeds, fertilizers and bioactives
(Table 1, Lee 2008).
At least 221 species of seaweeds are exploited globally,
with 145 species for food and 101 species for phycocolloid
production. These include 32 chlorophytes, 125 rhodophytes and
64 phaeophytes (Zemke-White and Ohno 1999). Approximately
ten species are intensively cultivated, particularly the brown algae
Laminaria japonica, Undaria pinnatida and the red algae,
Porphyra spp., Porphyra tenera, Eucheuma spp., Kappaphycus
alvarezii and Gracilaria spp. and Gracilaria verrucosa (Wikfors
and Ohno 2001).
Current Status of Global Cultivated
Seaweed Production and Markets
Sasi Nayar and Kriston Bott
Access to statistics on seaweed production is largely dependent
on annual publications of the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations (FAO), such as ‘The State of World’s Fisheries
and Aquaculture.’ The report published in 2012 only comprises
production statistics for 2010, with market data from 2009. The
FAO has acknowledged the shortcomings and it continually relies
on member countries for the provision of data, including production
statistics, which are often revisited and revised (Buchholz et. al.
2012). The purpose of this article is to review recent published
literature on global seaweed production statistics and tease out the
ner details of this unique resource.
Wild Harvested Seaweed Production
The global seaweed production from wild harvest is declining
and now accounts for less than 5 percent of the global seaweed
production (FAO 2010, 2011, 2012). Wild harvest includes
harvesting of seaweeds by hand or collection of beach cast/drift
algae (Fig. 2). Chile leads and accounts for 42 percent of the global
seaweed wild harvest production, followed by China (28 percent),
Canada (4 percent), France (3 percent), Iceland and Japan (2 percent
each) and South Korea, Morocco, South Africa and USA (1 percent
each) (Fig. 3).
The dominant species harvested from the wild includes
Chilean kelp Lessonia nigrescens (22 percent of the total wild
harvest), followed by huiro palo Lessonia trabeculata (7 percent),
Gracilaria seaweeds (5 percent), tangle Laminaria digitata and
luga negra o crespa Sarcothalia crispata (3 percent), and kelp
Macrocystis spp., Japanese kelp Laminaria japonica, North
TABLE 1. Industrial applications of seaweeds: Global production and value (Hanisak 1998, Zemke-White and
Ohno 1999, Chopin et al. 2001, McHugh 2003, FAO 2010, Bixler and Porse 2011, FAO 2011, Klinc et. al. 2013).
SEAWEED PRODUCTS MARKET VALUE RAW MATERIAL FINAL PRODUCT
(Million US$) Quantity (t) Value (US$/t) Quantity (t) Value (US$/t)
Carrageenan 527 400,000 1,400 50,000 10,500
Alginate 318 460,000 950 26,500 12,000
Agar 173 125,000 1,200 9,600 18,000
Soil additives ~30 550,000 18 ~510,000 20
Fertilizer (seaweed extract) ~10 10,000 500 ~1,000 5000
Seaweed meal ~10 50,000 100 ~10,000 500
Pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals,
nutraceuticals, bioactives, etc. ~5 3,000 Not known 600 Not known
TOTAL ~1,073 1,598,000 ~607,700
WW W.WAS.ORG WORLD AQUACULTURE JUNE 2014 33
(GRAPHICS CONTINUED ON PAGE 32,
TEXT CONTINUED ON PAGE 34)
Atlantic rockweed Ascophyllum nodosum and Skottersberg’s
gigartina Gigartina skottsbergii, each accounting for 2 percent of
total production (Fig. 4). In cases where data is only available on a
frozen weight basis, for instance Japanese kelp, other red seaweeds
and other green seaweeds, 80 percent moisture was used as a basis
for the conversion to dry weight for comparison.
Cultivated Seaweed Production
Cultivated seaweeds account for the largest quantity of
total global seaweed production. Several techniques are used to
cultivate seaweeds, ranging from monoculture, where spores are
‘seeded’ on ropes or nets, oating or xed on stakes on seabeds
or rafts in coastal waters, to onshore cultivation systems, such
as earthen ponds, tanks and raceways (Fig. 5). The open water,
longline system is very common in countries such as China and
the Philippines. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is
gaining popularity, where several species at different trophic levels
are cultivated in a single system at different biomass proportions,
with each component utilizing the waste products or biomass
produced by the other component in the system. Each component
must be marketable for the system to be viable (Chopin et al. 2008).
Seaweeds are a very popular choice in these systems as a primary
producer utilizing the nutrient wastes of sh and bivalves.
Global aquaculture production of aquatic plants in 2010 was
19 million t with an estimated farm gate value of US$5.7 billion.
Seaweeds dominate the production of aquatic plants, accounting
for over 99.5 percent in quantity and 99.1 percent in value in 2010
(Figs. 1 and 6). Production from aquaculture was over 95.5 percent
of the total global seaweed production. The culture of aquatic plants
has grown at 7.7 percent/yr since the 1970s (FAO 2010).
Countries in East and Southeast Asia dominate global seaweed
production from aquaculture, accounting for 99.6 percent by
quantity and value in 2010 (Fig. 7). China, the largest seaweed
producer, accounted for nearly 58 percent of global cultivated
seaweed production by quantity and 45 percent by value. Other
major seaweed producers include Indonesia, Philippines, South
Korea, Japan and North Korea.
In terms of value, however, Japan maintained its position as
the third major seaweed producer because of its high-value nori
production, accounting for 20 percent of global production (FAO
2010, 2011). The impact of the 2011 tsunami is very likely to have
had a major impact on Japan’s seaweed production, although there is
not yet conrmation in ofcial statistics.
In East Asia, almost all cultured seaweed species are used
for human consumption. A small proportion of Japanese kelp is
also used as a raw material for the extraction of iodine and algin.
In Southeast Asia though, Eucheuma seaweeds are the dominant
cultivated species, used mainly as a raw material for carrageenan
extraction.
Outside Asia, Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Chile are important
seaweed cultivating countries, producing about 0.13 and 0.01 t
in 2010, respectively. In terms of market value, these were not
substantial (Fig. 7). South Africa and Madagascar are other leading
producers outside Asia. Cultivated seaweed production in Tanzania
and Madagascar are mostly Eucheuma seaweeds for export. In
South Africa, cultured seaweeds are harvested mainly as feed to
support abalone aquaculture (FAO 2010, 2011).
The dominant cultivated brown seaweed species include
Japanese kelp Laminaria japonica, wakame Undaria pinnatida
and fusiform sargassum Sargassum fusiforme. The red seaweeds
included Eucheuma seaweeds, elkhorn sea moss Kappaphycus
alvarezii, Warty gracilaria Gracilaria verrucosa, nori Porphyra
spp., other gracilaria seaweeds, laver or nori Porphyra tenera,
spiny eucheuma Eucheuma denticulatum and Japanese isinglass
Gelidium amansii. The green seaweeds included bright green
nori Enteromorpha clathrata, green laver Monostroma nitidum,
caulerpa seaweeds Caulerpa spp. and fragile codium Codium
fragile (FAO 2012).
The most-produced cultivated seaweed in 2010 was Japanese
kelp (Fig. 8), accounting for over 33 percent of the global cultivated
seaweed production (5.1 million t), followed by Eucheuma seaweeds
at 22 percent (3.5 million t), elkhorn sea moss at 12 percent (1.9
million t), wakame at 10 percent (1.5 million t), warty Gracilaria
and other nori at 7 percent (1.2 million t). In the 1990s Japanese
kelp accounted for the bulk of cultivated seaweed production.
Collectively, Kappaphycus and Eucheuma accounted for less than
10 percent of the total cultivated Japanese kelp production.
As a direct consequence of skyrocketing global demand for
the hydrocolloid carrageenan in 2000, countries such as China,
Indonesia and the Philippines focused largely on cultivation of
the carragenophytes (Kappaphycus and Eucheuma). By 2005, the
carragenophyte production was nearly half that of Japanese kelp,
superseding production in 2010. This increase in production is
most obvious in the farming of Eucheuma seaweeds. In terms of
value, Eucheuma seaweeds accounted for 27 percent (US$1,135
million) of the global cultivated seaweed market, followed by nori
accounting for 26 percent (US$1,095 million), wakame 16 percent
(US$667 million), warty Gracilaria at 8 percent (US$342 million),
Japanese kelp at 7 percent (US$301 million), Elkhorn seamoss at 6
percent (US$203) and Gracilaria seaweeds (US$198 million) at 4
percent (Fig. 9, FAO 2012).
TABLE 2. Growth of seaweed imports in the
major markets of the world 1999-2008
(Infofish International 2011).
COUNTRY GROWTH (%)
Japan +10
Taiwan +13
Brazil +59
USA +65
Canada +87
France +93
Thailand +182
Mexico +183
Australia +189
Russia +345
China +673
Philippines +2800
34 JUNE 2014 WORLD AQUACULTURE W WW.WAS.ORG
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Figure 1
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Figure 2
Figure 4
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Figure 2
TOP LEFT, VERTICAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE 1. Trends in global
cultivated and wild harvest seaweed production between 2001 and 2010 (million t).
TOP RIGHT, PHOTOS, FIGURE 2. Harvesting seaweeds from the wild
(a) beachcast harvest of drif t seaweeds, and (b) diver harvesting seaweeds
(Photo: S. Nayar) BOTTOM LEFT, PIE CHART, FIGURE 3. Global
wild harvest seaweed production from ten leading countries in 2010 (million t).
The value indicates the percentage contribution to the total global wild har vest
seaweed production of 885,650 t. Other countries accounted for the remaining
14% of the total seaweed production from wild harvest. BOTTOM RIGHT,
HORIZONTAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE 4. Global wild harvest seaweed
production by species in 2010 (million t).
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Figure 3
WW W.WAS.ORG WORLD AQUACULTURE JUNE 2014 35
TOP LEFT, PHOTOS, FIGURE 5.Cultivation of seaweeds in onshore and
offshore systems (a) on-shore raceway cultivation (Photo: K. Bott), (b) cultivation of
seaweeds in the intertidal zone in China (Photo: S. Clarke), (c) low-cost demonstration
float and line cultivation system in the Philippines (Photo: S Nayar), (d) close-up of
Kappaphycus fragments strung on monofilament fishing line (Photo: S Nayar), (e)
large-scale offshore raft cultivation systems for seaweeds in China (Photo: S. Clarke),
and (f) harvesting cultivated seaweeds from offshore rafts (Photo: S. Clarke)
TOP RIGHT, VERTICAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE 6.Trends in the value
of global cultivated seaweed production between 2001 and 2010 (billion US$).
BOTTOM LEFT, PIE CHARTS, FIGURE 7.Global production in
million t (a) and value in million US$ (b) of cultivated seaweeds in 2010 for the leading
ten nations. BOTTOM RIGHT, HORIZONTAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE
8.Global cultivated seaweed production quantity by species in 2010 (million t).
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Figure 7
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Figure 5
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Figure 6
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Figure 7
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Figure 8
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36 JUNE 2014 WORLD AQUACULTURE WW W.WAS.ORG
Current Markets — Import and Export
Seaweeds are a source of diverse industrial products. This
industry is valued at US$7 billion (FAO 2010, 2011) with an
estimated production of 130 million t. The dominant share of
the market, valued at US$6 billion, is for human consumption
with just over a billion dollars for the production of value added
co-products such as hydrocolloids, bioactives, animal feeds and
fertilizers (Table 1).
The average price of seaweed in the global market increased
by over 50 percent in the last decade, associated with signicant
growth in demand (Table 2) and a limited supply. The value of
trade in seaweed reached over US$1 billion, with imports valued
at US$0.62 billion and exports at US$0.51 billion in 2009 (Figure
10). The total quantity of global imports and exports of seaweeds
were 0.30 and 0.29 million t, respectively. Seaweeds were valued
at US$2,033/t and US$1,764/t in the import and export market,
respectively. Data for 2010 and 2011 is not yet available from FAO
because of technical issues (Vannuccini, pers. comm.)1.
Six of the top ten seaweed import markets are based in
Asia (Fig. 11). China is ranked rst in the world in the value and
quantity of seaweed imports. Because of an increased demand for
seaweed products in China, seaweed prices have been pushed to
record highs. Demand from other markets, such as the Philippines,
Russia, Australia, Mexico and Thailand, is also rising (Table 2).
Future Opportunities with Seaweed Resources
Currently seaweeds are used as food, food ingredients, in
cosmetics, fertilizers and in the production of hydrocolloids, such
as agar and alginate. Most of the current commercial exploitation
of seaweeds is based on farming of edible species or for the
production of hydrocolloids.
Additional commercial opportunities for seaweed production
include processing for bioactives−some 15,000 have been
chemically isolated to date (Cardozo et al. 2007, Holdt and Kraan
2011), nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, human food, animal
stock feeds; soil conditioners, fertilizers and biofuels (Table 1).
Opportunities for utilization in nutraceuticals, human foods and
12 | Page
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Figure 11
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Figure 9
TOP LEFT, HORIZONTAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE 9. Value of global cultivated seaweed production by species in 2010 (million US$). TOP RIGHT,
VERTICAL BAR GRAPH, FIGURE 10. Trends in the quantity (million t) and value (billion US$) of global seaweed imports and exports for the period 2007 to 2009.
BOTTOM LEFT AND RIGHT, FIGURE 11. Quantity in million t (a) and value in billion US$ (b) of the global seaweed import and export market in 2009 for various
importing and exporting nations.
(a) (b)
11 | Page
Figure 10
WW W.WAS.ORG WORLD AQUACULTURE JUNE 2014 37
animal feeds, including aquafeeds, have been identied as offering
the most promise in a reasonable time frame (Winberg et al. 2009).
Global seaweed production has increased greatly in recent years, as
have the by-products and co-products derived from them.
Acknowledgments
The authors thank Professor Xiaoxu Li, Aquaculture
Programme, SARDI Aquatic Sciences for constructive comments
that helped improve this manuscript. Mr. S. Clarke, Science
Initiatives, SARDI Aquatic Sciences is thanked for photographs
used in Figure 5.
Notes
Sasi Nayar* and Kriston Bott
Algal Production Group, South Australian Research and
Development Institute – Aquatic Sciences, PO Box 120, Henley
Beach, SA 5022, Australia
* Corresponding author: sasi.nayar@sa.gov.au
1 Vannuccini, S., Fishery Statistician (Commodities), FAO
FIPS (Statistics and Information Service of the Fisheries and
Aquaculture Department) on 23 March 2013 FAO, pers. comm.
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Even with seaweed aquaculture growing rapidly over the last decade, global demand for seaweed-based
products has surpassed supply. There is a large and diverse array of applications and uses of macroalgal
products. The seaweed industry is estimated to have an annual value of some US$6 billion, the largest share
of which (US$5 billion) is human food products. The remaining US$1 billion is largely based on seaweed
extracts, such as hydrocolloids for use in animal feeds, fertilizers and bioactives.
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The global seaweed market is currently valued at USD $11 billion annually and utilizes about 29 million tonnes of seaweed (dry weight) for a variety of applications (Ferdouse et al., Globefish Res Programme 124:I, 2018). By 2025 the global market is estimated to reach USD $30.2 billion dollars (Bloomberg, 2020). The current Australian seaweed market is valued at US$3 million, which is relatively small, contributing only 0.03% to the global market. However, the Blue Economy CRC and Marine Bioproducts CRC together have resulted in a public/private funding of nearly AUD $600 million over the past 3 years with the aim of expanding towards a billion-dollar seaweed market in Australia within the next decade. Furthermore, a recent CSIRO Data 61 report identified ’Microalgal and Macroalgal Resources’ as an emerging growth sector, specifically in the state of Queensland (Naughtin et al., 2021). Currently, most of the seaweeds on the Australian market are imported, and this sector has seen a rapid expansion from 2005 to 2017. This growth highlights the increasing demand for seaweed products in Australia and potential for the expansion of domestic producers. International seaweed markets are also expanding rapidly at a rate of 12% and so offer significant export opportunities (IMARC, 2021). Despite the huge domestic biodiversity of seaweeds and their use by First Nations peoples, the commercialisation of native seaweed products has been limited. To date, seaweed cultivation and research has been broadly managed by the Department of Aquaculture and Marine Sciences, and more recently this has expanded to specific organisations (e.g. CSIRO, AgriFutures, ASI) and an increasing number of universities (e.g. the combined marine cooperative research centers (CRCs) have been approved for a total of AUD $580 million development over the next 10 years for marine bioproduct development and the blue economy with a consortium of ~100 industry, government and research partners). These collaborative networks with seaweed production companies provide evidence of a growing interest and demand for seaweed-based products in Australia and internationally. The two major seaweeds cultivated in Australia today comprise Durvillaea potatorum and Undaria pinnatifida. D. potatorum (commonly known as Bull Kelp) is a native brown seaweed species, which is collected primarily on King Island (Tasmania). Sustainable harvesting both generates an income of about AUD $2.63 million annually and helps preserve kelp forest ecosystems, motivating further research and sustainable cultivation. Both species are widely used to produce thickening agents for the food and cosmetics industry. In Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria there are currently a number of promising seaweed-based research projects developing seaweed-based products ranging from 3D bio-printing technology, livestock feed (methane emissions mitigation) and optimisation of seaweed mariculture systems. This chapter reviews current trends and future perspectives of seaweed-based products in the Australian market, highlighting the limitation of import and export restrictions and the importance of expanding investments into research on native strains. A growing domestic Australian seaweed industry not only offers to create regional jobs and reduce the cost of imports but has significant opportunities to become an export industry, extending value chains in the near future.
... Restoration in Japan (in addition to Korea) therefore appears to use more manipulative techniques than elsewhere in the world. Most projects outside of Japan relied on wild harvest of kelp plants, whereas in Japan culture or breeding programs provided source plants, likely linked to the fact that Japan is one of the largest producers of seaweed in the world (Nayar & Bott, 2014) and can adapt seaweed farming technology. Similarly, it appears much more common for projects to deploy artificial substrates in Japan (Tokuda et al., 1994), a practice that while also common in Korea, is often opposed in other countries (Thierry, 1988;Tickell, S aenz-Arroyo & Milner-Gulland, 2019). ...
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Kelp forest ecosystems and their associated ecosystem services are declining around the world. In response, marine managers are working to restore and counteract these declines. Kelp restoration first started in the 1700s in Japan and since then has spread across the globe. Restoration efforts, however, have been largely disconnected, with varying methodologies trialled by different actors in different countries. Moreover, a small subset of these efforts are ‘afforestation’, which focuses on creating new kelp habitat, as opposed to restoring kelp where it previously existed. To distil lessons learned over the last 300 years of kelp restoration, we review the history of kelp restoration (including afforestation) around the world and synthesise the results of 259 documented restoration attempts spanning from 1957 to 2020, across 16 countries, five languages, and multiple user groups. Our results show that kelp restoration projects have increased in frequency, have employed 10 different methodologies and targeted 17 different kelp genera. Of these projects, the majority have been led by academics (62%), have been conducted at sizes of less than 1 ha (80%) and took place over time spans of less than 2 years. We show that projects are most successful when they are located near existing kelp forests. Further, disturbance events such as sea‐urchin grazing are identified as regular causes of project failure. Costs for restoration are historically high, averaging hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare, therefore we explore avenues to reduce these costs and suggest financial and legal pathways for scaling up future restoration efforts. One key suggestion is the creation of a living database which serves as a platform for recording restoration projects, showcasing and/or re‐analysing existing data, and providing updated information. Our work establishes the groundwork to provide adaptive and relevant recommendations on best practices for kelp restoration projects today and into the future.
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The seafood industry is at a crossroads: while capture fisheries are stagnating in volume and decreasing in profitability, they are also falling short of world demand, as the annual consumption of seafood has been rising, doubling over the last three decades. As this trend is expected to persist, the importance of aquaculture, as the solution for providing the difference between the demand and the biomass available, could increase. The majority of aquaculture production still originates from extensive and semi-intensive systems; however, the rapid development of intensive marine fed aquaculture (e.g., carnivorous finfish and shrimp) throughout the world, even though it represents only 11%, is associated with concerns about the environmental, economic, and social impacts these often monospecific practices can have. To continue to grow, the aquaculture sector needs to develop innovative, responsible, sustainable, and profitable practices. This article examines some of the different options available to face these challenges (geographical expansion, intensification of the existing sites, diversification, social acceptance) and recognizes that changes in attitudes are needed and innovative practices have to be developed for further advancement. One of these options is integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA), which combines the cultivation of fed aquaculture species (e.g., finfish) with inorganic extractive aquaculture species (e.g., seaweed) and organic extractive aquaculture species (e.g., shellfish) for a balanced ecosystem management approach. Through IMTA, some of the food and energy considered lost in fed monoculture operations are recaptured and converted into crops of commercial value (extractive plants and animals), while biomitigation takes place. Several examples of IMTA systems in different parts of the world are described to illustrate the concept. For IMTA to develop from the experimental scale to sustainable commercial food production systems, appropriate regulatory and policy frameworks, and financial incentive tools, which recognize the economic value and environmental benefits of biomitigation services by biofilters, need to be put in place.
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Seaweed is more than the wrap that keeps rice together in sushi. Seaweed biomass is already used for a wide range of other products in food, including stabilising agents. Biorefineries with seaweed as feedstock are attracting worldwide interest and include low-volume, high value-added products and vice versa. Scientific research on bioactive compounds in seaweed usually takes place on just a few species and compounds. This paper reviews worldwide research on bioactive compounds, mainly of nine genera or species of seaweed, which are also available in European temperate Atlantic waters, i.e. Laminaria sp., Fucus sp., Ascophyllum nodosum, Chondrus crispus, Porphyra sp., Ulva sp., Sargassum sp., Gracilaria sp. and Palmaria palmata. In addition, Undaria pinnatifida is included in this review as this is globally one of the most commonly produced, investigated and available species. Fewer examples of other species abundant worldwide have also been included. This review will supply fundamental information for biorefineries in Atlantic Europe using seaweed as feedstock. Preliminary selection of one or several candidate seaweed species will be possible based on the summary tables and previous research described in this review. This applies either to the choice of high value-added bioactive products to be exploited in an available species or to the choice of seaweed species when a bioactive compound is desired. Data are presented in tables with species, effect and test organism (if present) with examples of uses to enhance comparisons. In addition, scientific experiments performed on seaweed used as animal feed are presented, and EU, US and Japanese legislation on functional foods is reviewed. KeywordsHigh value-added products–Health promotion–Biorefinery–Nutraceutical–Pharmaceutical–Feed supplement
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The data for worldwide seaweed production for the years 1994/1995 are summarised. At least 221 species of seaweed were used, with145 species for food and 101 species for phycocolloid production. 2,005,459 t dry weight was produced, with 90% coming from China, France, UK, Korea, Japan and Chile. 1,033,650 t dry weight was cultured with 90% coming from China, Korea and Japan. Just four genera made up 93% of the cultured seaweed: Laminaria (682,581 t dry wt), Porphyra (130,614 t dry wt), Undaria (101,708 t dry wt) and Gracilaria (50,165 t dry wt). The value of the harvest was in excess of US $ 6.2 billion. Since 1984 the production of seaweeds worldwide has grown by 119%.
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The data for worldwide seaweed production for the years 1994/1995 are summarised. At least 221 species of seaweed were used, with145 species for food and 101 species for phycocolloid production. 2,005,459 t dry weight was produced, with 90% coming from China, France, UK, Korea, Japan and Chile. 1,033,650 t dry weight was cultured with 90% coming from China, Korea and Japan. Just four genera made up 93% of the cultured seaweed: Laminaria (682,581 t dry wt), Porphyra (130,614 t dry wt), Undaria (101,708 t dry wt) and Gracilaria (50,165 t dry wt). The value of the harvest was in excess of US $ 6.2 billion. Since 1984 the production of seaweeds worldwide has grown by 119%.
In order to survive in a highly competitive environment, freshwater or marine algae have to develop defense strategies that result in a tremendous diversity of compounds from different metabolic pathways. Recent trends in drug research from natural sources have shown that algae are promising organisms to furnish novel biochemically active compounds. The current review describes the main substances biosynthesized by algae with potential economic impact in food science, pharmaceutical industry and public health. Emphasis is given to fatty acids, steroids, carotenoids, polysaccharides, lectins, mycosporine-like amino acids, halogenated compounds, polyketides and toxins.
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Algal aquaculture worldwide is estimated to be a $5–6 billion U.S. per year industry. The largest portion of this industry is represented by macroalgal production for human food in Asia, with increasing activity in South America and Africa. The technical foundation for a shift in the last half century from wild harvest to farming of seaweeds lies in scientific research elucidating life histories and growth characteristics of seaweeds with economic interest. In several notable cases, scientific breakthroughs enabling seaweed-aquaculture advances were not motivated by aquaculture needs but rather by fundamental biological or ecological questions. After scientific breakthroughs, development of practical cultivation methods has been accomplished by both scientific and commercial-cultivation interests. Microalgal aquaculture is much smaller in economic impact than seaweed cultivation but is the subject of much research. Microalgae are cultured for direct human consumption and for extractable chemicals, but current use and development of cultured microalgae is increasingly related to their use as feeds in marine animal aquaculture. The history of microalgal culture has followed two main paths, one focused on engineering of culture systems to respond to physical and physiological needs for growing microalgae and the other directed toward understanding the nutritional needs of animals—chiefly invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans—that feed upon microalgae. The challenge being addressed in current research on microalgae in aquaculture food chains is to combine engineering and nutritional principles so that effective and economical production of microalgal feed cultures can be accomplished to support an expanding marine animal aquaculture industry.
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Seaweed hydrocolloid markets continue to grow, but instead of the 3–5% achieved in the 1980s and 1990s, the growth rate has fallen to 1–3% per year. This growth has been largely driven by emerging markets in China, Eastern Europe, Brazil, etc. Sales of agar, alginates and carrageenans in the US and Europe are holding up reasonably well in spite of the recession. However, price increases to offset costs in 2008 and 2009 have begun to have a dampening effect on sales, especially in markets where substitution or extension with less expensive ingredients is possible. These higher prices have been driven by higher energy, chemicals and seaweed costs. The higher seaweed costs reflect seaweed shortages, particularly for carrageenan-bearing seaweeds. The Philippines and Indonesia are the dominant producers of the farmed Kappaphycus and Eucheuma species upon which the carrageenan industry depends and both countries are experiencing factors limiting seaweed production. Similar tightening of seaweed supplies are beginning to show up in brown seaweeds used for extracting alginates, and in the red seaweeds for extracting agar. The structure of the industry is also undergoing change. Producers in China are getting stronger, and while they have not yet developed the marketing skills to compete effectively in the developed world markets, they have captured much of their home market. China does not produce the red and brown seaweeds needed for higher end food hydrocolloid production. Stocking their factories with raw material has led to the supply problems. Sales growth continues to suffer from few new product development successes in recent years; although some health care applications are showing some promise, i.e., carrageenan gel capsules and alginate micro-beads. KeywordsHydrocolloids–Agar–Alginate–Carrageenan