Companies around the world are keen to start seaweed aquaculture, and more and more environmentalists are speaking about the potential of seaweed farming. There are about 12,000 species of seaweeds on Earth, with over 7000 Rhodophyta (red), more than 2000 Phaeophyta (brown) and 1500 Chlorophyta (green) macroalgae.
Marine algae produce between 50% and 80% of the total oxygen on earth and are the basis of the ocean food chain. Algae can remove toxins from the seawater as they grow and they play a major role in the marine ecosystem. Seaweed absorbs huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and is a prime candidate to address much of the concern with climate change. A World Bank study suggests that if ocean farmers devoted a little less than 5% of U.S. waters to grow seaweed, they could clean up an estimated 135 million tons of carbon and 10 million tons of nitrogen.
Seaweed farming consists of the management of naturally found batches or, in growing cases, means fully controlling the growth, development and lifecycle of algae. It began in Japan as early as 1670 in Tokyo Bay. Commercial cultivation of seaweed in the tropics was pioneered in the 1950s in the Philippines.
The seaweed industry is booming in volume and areas of use. This video from Down on the Farm traces the history of macroalgae farming and discusses many of the ways that marine agriculture will have a major impact on our world going forward.
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