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Seaweed Cultivation in India, ANew Opportunityof Revenue Generation.

  • Kamdhenu University
  • College of Fisheries science, Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari


Given the rising global demand for seaweed as a food and other seaweed-derived products, seaweed farming has became topic of concern in recent time. As demands increses, there is a urgent need of sea weed cultivation emerges. At present 92% of seweed supply comes from cultivated species yet there is considerble amount of gap between it's demand and supply. Taking all these facts into consideration togather, seaweed farming has fostered cconsiderable amount of socioeconomic importance to marginalized coastal communities in developing countries. This paper summerize the economic significance of seweed cultivation and its potential to generate new opportunity of revenue generation in India.
Seaweed Cultivation in India, A New Opportunity of Revenue Generation
1Department of Aquaculture, College of fisheries, Junagadh Agricultural University, Veraval,
2Fisheries Research Station, Junagadh Agricultural University, Okha, Gujarat.
3 Laboratory of Genome Science, Graduate School of Tokyo University of Marine Science and
Technology, Tokyo, Japan.
4Department of Aquaculture College of fisheries, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture
& Technology, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
5Post Graduate Institute for Fisheries Education and Research, Kamdhenu University,
Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Advances in Life Sciences 5(7), Print : ISSN 2278-3849, 2487-2491, 2016
Given the rising global demand for seaweed as a food
and other seaweed-derived products, seaweed farming
has became topic of concern in recent time. As
demands increses, there is a urgent need of sea weed
cultivation emerges. At present 92% of seweed supply
comes from cultivated species yet there is considerble
amount of gap between it’s demand and supply. Taking
all these facts into consideration togather, seaweed
farming has fostered cconsiderable amount of socio-
economic importance to marginalized coastal
communities in developing countries. This paper
summerize the economic significance of seweed
cultiva tion and its potential to generate new
opportunity of revenue generation in India.
Key words Se awe ed cul t ivat i on; ec o n omi c
significance; revenue genration.
Seaweeds are simple plants of the sea. They
are primitive plants without root and shoot system
and widely distributed in the oceans from the tidal
level to considerable depths, floating freely or
attached to substrate with hold fast. Seaweeds are
wonder plants of the sea since they are efficient
converters of sola r energy through cons tant
nourishment of the surrounding seawater and some
of them grow faster than anything on earth. In the
presence of sunlight, on the surface waters of the
sea they can grow 3 to 5 times more of their original
weight during a 45 days growth period. Therefore,
wet farming is getting extended to the vast areas
of the open oceans. The earliest record of using
seaweeds dated back to 2700 BC in the compilation
on ‘Chinese Her bs’ by Emperor Shen Nung.
Reports shows that seaweeds have been a part of
the Japanese diet since 300 BC. Seaweeds are
mainly eaten in the Oriental countries like Japan,
China, Korea and more recently, in USA and
Europe. The Republic of Korea has the highest per
capita consumption of sea weeds in the world.
Seaweeds are popularly called ‘Sea vegetables’ and
rich in minerals and vitamins. Therefore, seaweeds
are considered as medical food of the 21st century.
They also provide a strong base for growth
promoters of several plants and expected to be the
major source of bio fertilizers to start organic
agricultural revolution in the country. Seaweeds are
found to be one of the major source of bioactive
compounds and have yielded molecules for anti-
HIV drugs and other dreadful disease. Seaweed
products such as agar, alginate and carrageenan
have numerous applications in the food, beverages,
pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and textile
industries. After human food consumption, the next
most valuable commercial use of seaweeds is as
raw material for extraction of phycocolloids (agar,
alginate and carrageenan), which are used in several
Seaweed cultivation, as a diversification
activity in mariculture, has tremendous potential
all along the Indian coast. In India, seaweeds are
used as raw materials for the production of agar,
alginate and liquid seaweed fertilizer (LSF). There
are about 20 agar industries, 10 algin industries
situated at different places in the maritime states
of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and
2488 Advances in Life Sciences 5(7), 2016
Gujarat. With 20,000 species of seaweeds in the
worl d, India possesses 4 34 species of r ed
seaweeds, 194 species of brown seaweeds and 216
species of green seaweeds. The red algae Gelidiella
acerosa, Gracilaria edulis, G. crassa, G. foliifera
and G. verrucosa are used for agar manufacture
and brown algae Sargassum spp., Turbinaria spp.
and Cystoseira trinodis for the production of
alginates and liquid seaweed fertilizer. The quantity
of seaweeds exploited is inadequate to meet the
raw mater ial requirement of India n seaweed
industries. Seaweeds such as G. edulis, Hypnea
musciformis, Kappaphycus alvarezii, Enteromorpha
flexuosa and Acanthophora spicifera can be
successfully cultivated in long-line ropes and nets
by vegetative propagation method. This activity has
a potential to provide income and employment to
about 200,000 families. Traditionally, seaweeds have
be en collect ed from natural stocks or wild
populations. However, these resources were being
depleted by over-harvesting and hence, the need
for their cultivation. Today seaweed cultivation
techniques are standardized, perfected and made
economically favorable. Besides, industry prefers
a greater stability through sustained supply of
quantity and quality of raw materials. In order to
prevent overexploitation of natural seaweed habitats
and to meet the needs of industry in an uninterrupted
manner, nearly all brown seaweeds, 63 % of red
seaweeds and 68 % of green seaweeds are being
cultivated. Top five cultivated seaweeds in the world
are Laminaria, Porphyra, Undaria, Eucheuma and
Gracilari. These together account for 5.97 million
metric tonnes of seaweed production. Top 10
countries producing seaweeds are China, Korea,
Ja pan, Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Taiwa n,
Vietnam, Russia and Italy. The cur rent
phycocolloids (seaweed gels) industry stands at
over US$ 6.2 billion. The world production of
commercial seaweeds has grown by 119 % since
1984 and presently, 221 species of seaweeds are
utilized commercially including 145 species for food
and 110 species for phycocolloids production.
Significance of Seaweed
Some 221 species of seaweed are utilized
commercially. Of these, about 145 species are used
for food and 110 species for phyc ocoll oi ds
production (eg. agar). Seaweed has been a staple
food in Japan and China for a very long time. The
green seaweeds Enteromorpha, Ulva, Caulerpa and
Codium are utilized exclusively as source of food.
These are often eaten as fresh salads or cooked as
vegetables along with rice. Porphyra (Nori),
Laminaria (Kombu) and Undaria (Wakame) are
used for making fish and meat dishes as well as
soups and accompaniments. Agar-agar, agarose and
carrageenan are commercially valuable substances
extracted from red seaweeds and find extensive
use in many industries. The greatest use of agar is
in association with food preparation and in the
pharmaceutical industry as a laxative or as an outer
cover of capsules. With the advent of modern
molecular biology and genetic engineering, agar
gums producing an ‘aga rose’ factor are used
extensively in electrophoresis in most laboratories
around the world. Carrageenans are generally
employed for their physical functions in gelation
(include for example, foods such as ice cream,
viscous behavior, stabilization of emulsions,
suspensions and foams, and control of crystal
growth. Chemicals from brown seaweeds such as
alginic acid, mannitol, laminarin, fucoidin and iodine
have been extracted successfully on a commercial
basis. As the alginates can absorb many times their
own weight of water, have a wide range of
viscosity, can readily form gels and are non-toxic,
they have countless uses in the manufacture of
pharmaceuticals, cosmetic creams, paper and
cardboard, and processed foods. Being rich in
minerals, vitamins, trace elements and bioactive
substances, seaweeds are called medical food of
the 21st century. Digenea (Rhodophyta) produces
an effective vermifuge (kainic acid). Laminaria and
Sargassum species have been used in China for the
treatment of cancer. Anti-viral compounds from
Undaria have been found to inhibit the Herpes
simplex virus, which are now sold in capsule form.
Research is now being car ried out into using
Undaria extract to treat breast cancer and HIV.
Another red alga Ptilota sp. produces a protein (a
lectin) that preferentially agglutinates human B-type
erythrocytes in vitro. Some calcareous species of
Corallina have been used in bone-replacement
therapy. Asparagopsis taxiformes and Sarconema
sp. are used to control and cure goiter while
heparin, a seaweed extract, is used in cardiovascular
Nutrition composition of seaweed
Most people unknowingly utilize seaweed
products daily in the form of processed food items
like processed dairy, meat and fruit products and
domestic commodities like paint, toothpaste, solid
air fres heners, c osmet ics, etc. Seaweeds are
excellent source of vitamins A, Bl, B12, C, D & E,
TANDEL et al., Seaweed Cultivation in India, A New Opportunity of Revenue Generation 2489
riboflavin, niacin, pantothanic acid and folic acid3,
4 as well as minerals such as Ca, P, Na, K. Their
amino acid content is well balanced and contains
all or most of the essential amino acids needed for
life and health. They have more than 54 trace
elements required for human body’s physiological
functions in quantities greatly exceeding vegetables
and other land plants. These essential elements are
in chelated, colloidal, optimally balanced form hence
they are bio-available.
Seaweed resource in India
Seaweeds grow abundantly along the Tamil
Nadu and Gujarat coasts and around Lakshadweep
and Andaman and Nicobar islands. There are also
rich seaweed beds around Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Goa,
Karwar, Varkala, Vizhinjam and Pulicat in Tamil
Nadu and Chilka in Orissa. Out of approximately
700 species of marine algae found in both inter-
tidal and deep-water regions of the Indian coast,
nearly 60 species are commercially important. Agar
yielding red seaweeds such as Gelidiella acerosa
and Gracilaria sp. are collected throughout the year
while algin yielding brown algae such as Sargassum
and Turbinaria are collected seasonally from August
to January on Southern coast. A standing crop of
16,000 tons of Sargassum and Turbinaria has been
reported from Indian waters. The surveys carried
out by Central Salt and Marine and Chemical
Research Institute (CSMCRI), Central Marine
Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and other
research organizations have revealed vast seaweed
resources along the coastal belts of South India.
On the West Coast, especially in the state of Gujarat,
abundant seaweed resources are present on the
intertidal and sub tidal regions. These resources
have great potential for the development of seaweed-
based industries in India.
Present status of seaweed cultivation in
Although, India has a coastline of more than
8,000 kms and harbours a bout 844 species of
seaweeds, commercial cultivation is not yet to take
place in India. R&D efforts over the years have
resul ted in va lua b le informati on regar ding
biodiversity, ecological conditions suitable for
farming, species that could be incorporated in the
cultivation, etc. India is rich in algal biodiversity,
has large stretches of suitable areas for cultivation
and has communities of traditional fisher folk.
However, Indian seaweed industry suffers from
absence of commercial cultivation practices, lack
of infrastructure for commercial cultivation and
absence of policy support. Since, seaweed is not
an important aspect of Indian diet, its cultivation
remains a low priority area. Contrary to that,
seaweed cultivation presents several opportunities
such as carbon sequestration through seaweed
farming, provision of nursery grounds for fish and
shellfish, medium for pollution abatement and
diversified uses as animal feed and fertilizers.
Multiple and conflicting uses of coastal areas,
grazing by fish and illegal exploitation of seaweeds
are some of the threats in the area. Distribution of
seaweed species in India according to state vise
are, Gujarat 202; Mahar ashtra 152; Goa 75;
Karnataka 39; Kerala 20; Lakshadweep 89; Tamil
Nadu 302; Andhra Pradesh 78; Orissa 1; West
Bengal 6 and Andaman & Nicobar Islands 34. India
presently harvests only about 22,000 tonnes of
macro-algae annually compared to a potential
Table 1. Nutrition composition of some seaweed species
Seaweed spp. Protein % Lipid % Carbohydrates % Ash %
Ulva 26.1 2.1 42.0 7.8
Enteromorpha 19.5 0.3 64.9 15.2
Mosostroma 20.0 1.2 63.9 14.9
Laminaria 16.1 2.4 39.3 19.6
Alaria 17.1 3.6 39.8 14.9
Saragssum 19.0 2.9 33.0 16.2
Padina 18.81 1.7 31.6 10.3
Prophyra 28.4 4.5 45.1 6.9
Rhodymenia 21.5 1.7 44.6 5.3
Gracilaria 24.37 1.8 61.75 11.3
2490 Advances in Life Sciences 5(7), 2016
harvest of 870,000 tonnes, a mere 2.5 per cent.
Commercial cultivation of macro-algae has barely
begun and is facing continuous regulatory hurdles.
Processing of macro-algae is limited to lower grades
of agar-agar and alginate and is modest in quantity.
Manufacturers of agar-agar are working at less than
50 per cent of their capacity and there is no
manufacturer of carrageenans. Instead of being a
major global producer and exporter, India remains
an importer of macro algal products. The principal
cause for this gap between the potential and the
actual results could be achieved by commercial
cultivation and processing of macro-algae.
Sco pe for re venue generation through
coastal villagers
A concept that is sometimes difficult for
profit-seeking investors is that it appears that the
majority of village-based farmers are satisfied with
a certain minimum level of income. Once that is
reached, this majority tends to lose their motivation.
It is for this reason that 80% of production is, on
average, delivered by the remaining motivated 20%
of the farmers. The causes of this difference in
motivation are varied, including the need for money
to invest some sort of project and to pay for their
children’s education. Logically, an increase in beach
price may actually lead to an overall fall in
production of the less motivated 80% of farmers.
Another limiting factor is the risk-aversion of
villagers who, quite understandably, are unwilling
to jettison the relative familiarity of their more
traditional income-earning activities for a new
venture. The overall conclusion is that an investor
must focus on motivated, and able, farmers. These
farmers need to be trained in order to attain that
all-important 2% extra growth per day and they
need to be provided with the materials in order to
do so. Working together with these individuals can
promote the development of an important mutual
confidence. To the extent that it is feasible, it is
also sensible to promote the participation of migrant
labour that are typically more financially motivated,
but this comes with some responsibility to facilitate
their integration into the local community.
Problems and Prospects
The major problems in the seaweed industry
include overexploitation leading to a scarcity of raw
material, poor quality raw material, labor shortages
during the paddy harvesting and transplanting
season, lack of technology to improve processed
product quality, and a lack of information on new
and alternative sources of raw materials. Despite
the great number of sheltered bays and lagoons
suitable for mariculture, no large-scale attempts to
grow seaweed have been made in India so far.
Efforts are needed to increase production through
improving harvesting techniques, removal of
competing species, creation of artificial habitats and
seeding of cleared areas. As the technology for
reliable methods for the cultivation of different
commercially importa nt seed stocks and their
improvement has either already been developed or
pr esently bei ng in re sear ch, it needs to be
disseminated effectively to the target community.
Extensive surveys need to be conducted to identify
suitable sites for large-scale seaweed culture. There
is great potential for the agarophyte cultivation
because of its low availability from the wild stock
due to over-exploitation. Many edible seaweed
species are available on the Indian coast; attempts
should be made to develop products suitable for
the Indian palate and to popularize the same amongst
the publi c. With re gard t o pharmaceutical
substances, heparin analogues (heparinoids) that
are inhibitory to thrombin activities have been
reported from Chlorophyta of Indian coasts; this
and many other important types of seaweed are
available on Indian coast that can be utilized for
production of many important pharmaceutical
products thr ough extrac tion of bioa ctive
compounds. Attention should also be given towards
developing hybrid species with superior growth and
nutritional characteristics, as the same has been
proved successful in countries like Japan. Rather
opting for high-volume low- value sea weeds,
culture of high value seaweeds should be aimed
for, as part of integrated coastal and national
development programmes. Seaweed polyculture in
association with molluscs and fishes seems to have
good prospects to increa se harvest and profits.
Pond and cana l cult ure of seaweeds ( e .g.
Gracilaria) in shrimp farming areas can help to
treat t he effluent wa ter. The problem of
eutrophication of culture ponds due to overfeeding
and excreta released by fish/shrimp can be tackled
by culturing seaweeds in such ponds. Out of
estimated around US $ 3 billion global phycocolloids
and biochemical business, India’s share is meager.
We can surely grab a bigger part in this lucrative
business with sincere efforts towards large-scale
cultivation of commercially important species and
processing. To facilitate this, more technologically
sophisticated extraction plants with easy access to
markets and marketing organizations need to be
TANDEL et al., Seaweed Cultivation in India, A New Opportunity of Revenue Generation 2491
established nearby cultivation areas to utilize the
resources efficiently with greater profits. Since it
requires low inputs, and provides good returns and
can employ many people seaweed culture is a good
industry for coastal communities. The efforts in
seaweed cultivation and its utilization through
product and process development could help in
meeting the food and nutritional security of Indian
population as well as augmenting value of total
fisheries export. Seaweed has a very important role
to play towa rds betterment of coastal fishing
communities and as a valuable foreign exchange
earner. The need of the present time is to train,
encour age and promote coasta l fishermen
population at suitable sites, through combined
efforts of respective state governments, research
institutes, sea weed industry, Marine Products
Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and local
NGOs, to adopt commercially viable large-scale
culture technologies, and to provide them with good
marketing facilities through proper channels.
In the 21st century ‘food security’ is one of
the major concern among agriculture scientist
communities. After realizing the significance of
seaweed both as a food and as an economic asset,
scientists are now acknowledging seaweed as an
alternative way to combat food security in future.
This late realization came largely due to rapidly
expanding pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and processed
food industries, wherein algal products have figured
prominently, together with the prospective use of
seaweeds in tertiary sewage treatment or as a
supplementary energy source. As a result of this
potential reliaztion, there is a plenty of scope for
the expansion of seweed cultivation in the current
time. The enriched natural resources have great
potential for the development of seaweed-based
industries in India. Utilization of resources for
seaweed cultivation would overcome the problem
of scarcity of raw material of seaweed and poor
quali ty of raw material and wil l generate
employment opportunity for coastal communities.
Subba Rao, P. V. and Mantri, V. A. 2006. Indian seaweed
resources and sustainable utilization: Scenario at the
dawn of a new century. Current Science. 91(2): 164-
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and potential in India. Aquaculture asia 8(4):26-29.
De. san. Michel. 2012. Implementation of a Region al
Fisheries Strategy For The Eastern-Southern Africa and
India Ocean Region, The Farming of Seaweeds.
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medicinal sea plants of Pacific Island. University of the
South Pacific :40.
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and agriculture. J. Appl. Phycol. 23:371–393
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and man: 471-487.
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of the Symposium on Algology, Indian Council of
Agricultural Research, New Delhi.
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T.G. 1979. Marine algal resources of Maharashtra coast.
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for Seaweed Cultivation. Seaweed Cultivation and
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Received on 15-03-2016 Accepted on 20-03-2016
... 700 marine algae species are present in both intertidal and deep-water area of the Indian coast and about 60 of these have commercial importance. The major seaweed producing states of India are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands while some species are also grown in Orissa and West Bengal (Tandel et al., 2016). ...
Full-text available
its about application, type and future propsects of seaweed for plant disease management and growth.
Seaweeds or macroalgae, a highly useful and simple type of plants, lack true roots, stems and leaves. Heavy loads on numerous usual resources impose the development of substitute sources to produce significant goods such as food, food additives, feed, fuel, maquillages, and antibiotics. The improvement of large-scale seaweed aquaculture has the prospective to play a significant role in meeting future resource needs. The seaweed is an important character of culture and society. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
Full-text available
Seaweeds are macrophytic algae, a primitive type of plants lacking true roots, stems and leaves. Most seaweeds belong to one of three divisions - the Chlorophyta (green algae), the Phaeophyta (brown algae) and the Rhodophyta (red algae). There are about 900 species of green seaweed, 4000 red species and 1500 brown species found in nature1. The greatest variety of red seaweeds is found in subtropical and tropical waters, while brown seaweeds are more common in cooler, temperate waters.
Full-text available
The history of Indian seaweed research is not more than seventy-five years. The state of the Indian seaweed resources was last reviewed in 1998 and subsequently lot of new information relating to resources, utilization and commercial cultivation has been added. The main objective of the present review is to gather and analyse all such additional information made available by recent workers in the last eight years. The most recent quantitative estimates for seaweed biomass recorded in the literature for different coastal areas of India are given. An attempt has also been made to provide information on commercial utilization of natural resources, import-export trend for seaweeds and seaweed phycocolloids. Industrial utilization of seaweeds and cultivation of economically important seaweeds in India, socio-economic profile of seaweed collectors, future possible utilization strategies to be adopted for conservation of germplasm and introduction of legislation policies for their controlled harvesting and sustainable utilization are elucidated in detail. When compared with the world scenario, estimates for India do not suggest the existence of rich seaweed resources. Though data on different coastal states are abundant qualitatively as well as quantitatively, they are inconsistent and incomplete and methods adopted for estimation varied considerably. The quantitative data are generally confined to estimates of corresponding harvest or of standing stalk; however, there is little direct evidence of how these estimates are related to sustainable annual harvest.
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Both micro- and macroalgae have long been used to augment plant productivity and food production in various regions of the world through their beneficial effects when applied to soils. Interactions of algae with the soil community undoubtedly are complex and benefits are dependent on the crop and the local environmental conditions. This has resulted in much speculation as to mechanisms involved as well as the validity of the results reported. It is now 60years since the first commercial seaweed extract was manufactured for agricultural use. These aqueous extracts allowed for the first time the direct application of soluble seaweed constituents to specific plant organs such as leaves and roots. The earlier concept that benefits of seaweeds and their extracts were due mainly to their manurial value or to their micronutrient suites is no longer tenable. Seaweeds likewise have been used for millennia as fodder supplements to improve animal nutrition and productivity. Recent research is focusing on their mode of action, specific health benefits, and the mechanisms of action in animals. Improved analytical techniques and instrumentation coupled with the use of molecular genetic tools are establishing that seaweed extracts can modify plant and animal responses at a fundamental level. It therefore seems appropriate to review key developments over the years and to remark on novel findings. A new and exciting vista has opened for seaweed extracts in both plant and animal applications. KeywordsAlgae–Growth hormones–Pathogen resistance–Animal health–Polymers
Seaweeds, one of the important marine living resources could be termed as the futuristically promising plants. These plants have been a source of food, feed and medicine in the orient as well as in the west, since ancient times. Although, seaweeds in India are used for industrial production of agar and alginate and as a fertilizer, it is yet to be utilized on a large scale for various purposes, which is not being done, due to lack of its awareness among the Indian populace. In order to harness the rich potential of seaweeds in India, the present limited use needs to be diversified into other contemporary areas of application. Being a plant of unique structure and biochemical composition, seaweed could be exploited for its multi-functional properties in the form of food, energy, medicine and consmetics. In addition to the comprehensive view on its uses, the article also calls for the need to implement biotechnological tools for sustainable management of seaweed resources. All in all, an attempt has been made to highlight the prospects of seaweed in India in the modern context.
Implementation of a Regional Fisheries Strategy For The Eastern-Southern Africa and India Ocean Region, The Farming of Seaweeds
  • San De
  • Michel
De. san. Michel. 2012. Implementation of a Regional Fisheries Strategy For The Eastern-Southern Africa and India Ocean Region, The Farming of Seaweeds.
A guide to the common and edible and medicinal sea plants of Pacific Island
  • I Novaczek
Novaczek, I. 2001. A guide to the common and edible and medicinal sea plants of Pacific Island. University of the South Pacific :40.
Seaweed utilization in India
  • F Thivy
Thivy, F. 1960. Seaweed utilization in India. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Algology, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.
Marine algal resources of Maharashtra coast
  • A G Untawale
  • V K Dhargalkar
  • V V Agadi
  • T G Jagtap
Untawale, A. G., Dhargalkar, V. K., Agadi, V. V. and Jagtap, T.G. 1979. Marine algal resources of Maharashtra coast. Technical Report, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, p. 48.