world production

unsustainable cultivation

The current international seaweed production methods are far from sustainable. The FAO estimates that 99% of all seaweed comes from Asia, of which the vast majority (58%) comes from market leader China. In the 1960's, demand for seaweed outstripped supply by wild harvest in many Asian countries. They made the right move then, and started to cultivate seaweed with the goal to protect these invaluable natural resources. However, in more recent decades, the demand for seaweed exceeded what these seaweed farms were producing. To increase production, they increased the size of these farms. But that led to a scarcity of nutrients in the seawater. Other organisms came under pressure and so these mass scale seaweed farms became a threat to biodiversity. Demand kept growing though, and unnatural compounds (such as manure) were then added to the sea to increase yields in these mass farms. This in turn is one of the reasons for explosive algae blooms as well as an increase in utrification levels. Despite our search, for many years by now, for scientific information on these practices, the industry seems to make sure this is impossible to find. But here a link to an article that give you more insight:

Seaweed farming linked to Qingdao's green tide of algae

wild harvest

Currently, 5% of all seaweed globally is the result of wild harvesting. That is an average applied to the total worldwide market. In the EU for example, more than 99% of all seaweed is wild harvest. We're talking about an FAO predicted 300 million kilos of seaweed in 2017, and this increases annually by 10%. That is the problem we set out to solve. Small scale wild harvest is done by hand and is often referred to as wild harvesting, seaweed cutting, or foraging. If kept small scale this may not cause much damage. But the reality in Chili demonstrates (see link below), that too many single wild harvesters collectively do a lot of damage. There, as in the EU, wild harvesting was the default practice and over 400 million kilos were harvested in 2014. Following the global trend of the past 60 years, the amounts in Chili were increasing every year, with no end in sight. Until scientists convinced the government to stop this practice for the sake of their seas. The Chillian authorities has made wild harvesting illegal in 2016 and is stimulating wild harvesters to switch to sustainable cultivation of seaweed. In the EU the majority of seaweed is removed using big boats, with enormous steel hooks that rip the seaweed from the sea beds. Far from view out at sea, these machines create havoc to the underwater rainforests. We know better, we all deserve better, and believe us when we say that we can indeed do better. The MSC and ASC certification bodies are working on a standard for seaweed production that they announced will come out in 2017. We can't wait, as that will help in our mission.

Article 2016 (in Dutch) on Chili banning wild harvesting

Article 2015 about disappearing seaweed species due to overharvesting

Article Scientific American from 2014: "Seaweed Slashers See Harvesting Cuts Coming"

 

 

Zeewaar The first seaweed farm in The Netherlands