In a comprehensive assessment of the potential risks and benefits of expanding seaweed farming, the United Nations Environment Programme called this week for “cautious optimism” and a lot more scientific research. Seaweed aquaculture is growing quickly amid enthusiasm about macroalgae’s potential to do everything from mitigating climate change to feeding the world to replacing petroleum-based fuels and plastics. But the potential risks to the environment and to vulnerable communities are still poorly understood, the report found. (No paywall)
Seaweed farming is being hyped as a major weapon in the fight against climate change — as a way to absorb atmospheric carbon, reduce methane emissions from cattle, provide feedstock for biofuels, and feed the world — no fertilizers, fresh water, or even land required. (No paywall)
Researchers at the University of Southern California are in the early stages of an experiment to farm seaweed for biofuel in the Pacific Ocean. Kelp can grow two to three feet a day without fertilizer, pesticides, fresh water, or arable land — making it an ideal product for the biofuel industry.
Applicants are asking Alaska's Department of Natural Resources for permission to begin hundreds of acres of kelp farming on the state's tidelands, reports Alaska Public Media. Last year, the state got requests to lease around 18 acres for various types of mariculture; this year, kelp farming would occupy two-thirds of the 1,000 acres of lease requests.
Researchers at University College in Dublin, Ireland say that feeding seaweed, a popular ingredient in ancient Chinese medicine, to sows can improve the health of their offspring and reduce the use of antimicrobials, says the Aberdeen (Scotland) Press and Journal.
The effects of ocean warming are already being felt on crop yields and fishing stocks, according to the most comprehensive report yet on the topic, released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.
Wild seaweed is becoming an increasingly popular food source and moneymaker across South America, says Take Part. Most of the region’s seaweed is gathered from the wild, rather than cultivated as it is other parts of the world, like Asia. Of Chile’s 30,000 wild harvesters, most are women.
The next kale could be an edible seaweed called dulse "that is highly nutritious and, when cooked, has a savory flavor that some describe as tasting like bacon," says the Salem Statesman Journal.
"Could the next big thing in alternative proteins be a something tiny and green?" asks NPR. "Several companies see a bright future for plant protein, and for microalgae in particular."