A recent report by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) titled Phycomorph European Guidelines for a Sustainable Aquaculture of Seaweeds (PEGASUS), highlights the current state of European seaweed production and pinpoints challenges for the development of this sector in the current European context. It proposes recommendations for short-term and long-term improvements at different levels of the chain.
Although this report is Eurocentric, there are many parallels with the US seaweed industry in terms of regulations, market demand, and current percent production of global production.
The authors believe that seaweed aquaculture can help to address global challenges related to nutrition, health and sustainable circular bio economy. The estimated value of the global seaweed production industry is more than ~ 8B€ (for 30Mt) and is continuing to expand. However, the European production lags behind Asian countries despite its large economy. In response, a multi-nation team of European scientists produced a 200 page report outlining how to promote seaweed aquaculture.
Here is a list of some of the highlighted hurdles and recommendations for building a stronger seaweed economy (image below).
Challenge: Food preservation to maintain consistent contents and improve organoleptic properties
Solution: Set up certification centers
Challenge: Impacts of post-harvest handling (preservation treatments) on the quality and quality stability of seaweed (nutrient content, organoleptic properties). Stabilization of seaweed biomass
Solution: Implement best practice / industrial classification codes developed in collaboration with companies and national / European authorities
Challenge: Attract consumers
Solution: Increase public awareness, create vocabulary to describe the flavor of seaweed