Seaweed farming is the fastest growing of all aquaculture sectors globally, worth over USD 5 billion annually. Most of this farming occurs in developing countries, providing income to millions of families in rural coastal communities and often allowing women to become economically active in areas where few other opportunities exist.
The industry currently faces significant challenges, both ecological and socio-economic. These were highlighted in a recent United Nations University policy brief led by GlobalSeaweedSTAR’s Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (read here) and includes the high vulnerability of seaweed crops to outbreaks of disease and pests, and the lack of biosecurity measures and legislation governing the movement of seaweeds between regions and continents.
Disease and pest infestation can devastate seaweed crops, threatening the industry and the livelihood of the communities reliant on it. In the Philippines alone, crop losses valued at over USD 100 million a year have been attributed to seaweed disease, close to 15 per cent of the country’s annual seaweed production. Similar losses are reported in other countries.
GlobalSeaweedSTAR has addressed the challenges facing the seaweed industry by providing practical solutions and training to stakeholders in developing countries, safeguarding the sustainable growth of this important industry.