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Welcome.
GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR is working to protect global wild seaweed stocks, whilst enhancing the biodiversity of their habitats and strengthening the livelihoods of the seaweed farms and their local communities. Learn more about our programme and what it plans to achieve below.

About us

GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR is a three year programme (1 Dec 2023 to 30 Nov 2026) funded by the Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC), which is a UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that funds research into natural solutions to climate change and poverty.

The SUPERSTAR programme brings together an international team of experts in science, policy and economics from partner institutions across the world and builds upon our work from the previously UKRI-funded GlobalSeaweedSTAR programme (2017 – 2022). To meet our core team, please click here.

a family of seaweed farmers harvesting their crop

Our challenge

Seaweeds are vital for marine ecosystem functioning. Their habitats form some of the most productive ecosystems on the plants, supporting an immense biodiversity of marine organisms, providing a wide variety of ecosystem services and playing a critical role in mitigating climate change. Yet, wild seaweeds are predicted to lose up to 71% of their current distribution by 2100, either through overharvesting or climate-driven impacts, such as pollution, invasive species or pest and disease outbreaks. Despite their significant ecological and economic importance, wild seaweeds, receive minimal or no protection globally.

Seaweeds also support the livelihoods of over 6M farmers and their families in over 56 countries worldwide. Women are integral to seaweed cultivation in many of these countries. The industry is one of the fastest-growing of all aquaculture sectors and 95% of the cultivation is undertaken in developing countries, particularly in SE Asia. Yet, the industry is dependent on rapidly declining wild stocks and relatively few commercially grown cultivars. Many of these cultivars lack resilience to climate change and are, therefore, highly vulnerable to pest and disease outbreaks, which can devastate entire farms.

The industry and the wild stocks upon which it depends, currently faces significant challenges, both ecological and socio-economic. These were highlighted in a recent United Nations University Policy Brief led by GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR’s Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (read here), which highlights the high vulnerability of wild seaweed stocks amid the increasing demand from wild harvesting and cultivation industries, climate change and the lack of protection measures, legislation and stakeholder awareness.

GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR plans to address the acute problem of lack of protection for wild seaweeds, by developing a global strategy (‘Seaweed Breakthrough’) that protects, conserves and restores wild seaweeds, whilst supporting the livelihoods of seaweed farmers and their local communities.

What we will do

Learn more about our activities.

Research

Our research focuses on three core areas: seaweed conservation, improving seaweed resilience to climate change, biodiversity enhancing seaweed management practices and policy.

Seaweed Breakthrough

The GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR Global approach to seaweed conservation – ‘Seaweed Breakthrough’ will work to promote a sustainable seaweed aquaculture industry and the protection and enhancement of wild seaweed stocks and their associated biodiversity.

Resources

Online resources for the seaweed industry are available through our website, including a disease diagnosis service (My Seaweed Looks Weird) and biosecurity policy database.

Events

We will be hosting capacity building workshops in Malaysia and Indonesia to exchange knowledge and strengthen our partnerships and attend international meetings including UN Ocean Conference in 2025 to develop and launch our global ‘Seaweed Breakthrough’.

“Our aim is to develop a global strategy that protects, conserves and restores wild seaweeds and enhances biodiversity, whilst supporting livelihoods of seaweed farmers and their communities. To achieve this we will work hard to create diverse and equitable partnerships and networks, new policies and practices to enable further investment in climate resilient initatives, which will benefit a truly global industry.”

PROFESSOR ELIZABETH COTTIER-COOK, PROGRAMME LEADER

Our key goals

GlobalSeaweed-SUPERSTAR is working towards three key long term outcomes or goals. Learn more about each below.

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Our work towards these aims directly supported 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.