Seaweed farming has the potential to do a lot of good for nature. While most produce farmed on land requires some fertilizers and pesticides, seaweed cleans the water around it—absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorous as it grows and improving water chemistry. And did we mention scientists estimate that, globally, seaweed sequesters as much CO2 as mangroves, sea grasses, and salt marshes combined?
Seaweed farming also has enormous economic potential. It is a fast-growing crop, a new farmer needs a relatively small early investment to start farming, and both health-conscious consumers and large food producers are calling for more.
Fisher-farmers on the coast of Maine have already realized the opportunity. With much of their community reliant on a single industry—lobstering—and with climate change warming the waters of the Gulf of Maine faster than most other waters across the globe, seaweed farming offers an avenue for self-employed fishers to diversify their income, support the ecosystem on which they rely, and use equipment they already own.
Seaweed farming can provide huge benefits to consumers as well, and not just as a healthy human “superfood.” WWF supports a number of researchers and companies developing seaweed products—such as animal feed, bioplastics, and the extracted proteins used to create plant-based meat substitutes—to increase seaweed demand.