Seaweed Farming in Europe Could Pose a Bright Future
Seaweed farming is popular in Asian waters and has become a lucrative business. Europe is trying its luck to have a share of the pie for exportation.
Testing Seaweed Farming in European Waters
Asia influences worldwide seaweed production, particularly, China. The combined global harvest in 2019 reached 35.8 million tonnes. Asia constitutes 97% of the production, with over half coming from Chinese waters.
Europe, on the other hand, is in the progress of testing its waters if it can be successful in seaweed farming. It produced 287,033 tonnes in the same year. It’s equivalent to 0.8% of the total global harvest, which mostly came from wild stocks.
Not many people give much consideration to seaweeds that it’s one of the marketable crops. As a matter of fact, it is edible and safe to eat by humans and animals. It can be also used as a land fertilizer, cosmetics ingredient, biodegradable packaging, biofuel, and more.
The Dutch government proposes to allocate 400 sq km (154 sq miles) from its North Sea territorial waters for large-scale seaweed cultivation.
The Seaweed Company currently farms kelp on Ireland’s west coast, Moroccan and Indian waters, including its home country.
“We are seaweed pioneers. le from the financial, social, and ecological side, you need a lot of seaweed,” said Joost Wouters, founder of The Seaweed Company.
In 2020, the seaweed industry was worth $40 billion, according to a report. The same study forecasts that it will jump to $95 billion by 2027. These figures motivate European producers to begin seaweed farming on a notable scale.
Seaweed as Superfood and its Edible Types
Edible seaweeds are also called sea vegetables and are considered superfoods. These are aquatic plants known as algae that thrive in the ocean. It consists of amino acids called glutamate – a briny, rich, and pleasant taste called umami.
Seaweeds are loaded with different minerals and anti-oxidants. It includes vitamins A, C, E, and B12. They are generally soft and elastic in the water. However, they are usually dried for preservation and rehydrated in water or broth before being eaten.
Some of the most popular seaweeds eaten are:
Wakame (sea mustard) has a sweet taste with a silky smooth quality. It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Kombu is a type of kelp usually used in dashi broth and the most popular edible seaweed. In Japan, it is the favorite flavor enhancer.
Nori (purple laver) has a deep purplish-red color that turns dark green when dried. They are usually processed into sheets used for making sushi or California roll.
Dulse has a deep red or purplish leaves shaped like a palm and usually grows in Northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It can substitute bacon for its salty, savory flavor.
Arame comes from the kelp family with a brown color, generally shredded and dried, and resembles feathery, black noodles when packed. It tastes mild and slightly sweet and is incorporated into salads, noodles, and stir-fries.
Some of these seaweeds grow fast, making it feasible to produce diverse crops each year in the same area. Additionally, coastal waters are generally rich in nutrients, saving seaweed farmers time and money since they don’t need to use fertilizers anymore.
Image Source: Peter Southwood/WikimediaCommons