Seaweed, Seafood, Plastics & Fodder

Globally, seaweed production has grown by nearly 75 percent in the past decade.

After news of the blob coming our way, here is another useful seaweed story in excellent interactive format:

Seaweed Is Having Its Moment in the Sun

It’s being reimagined as a plastic substitute, even as cattle feed. But can seaweed thrive in a warming world?

For centuries, it’s been treasured in kitchens in Asia and neglected almost everywhere else: Those glistening ribbons of seaweed that bend and bloom in cold ocean waves.

Today, seaweed is suddenly a hot global commodity. It’s attracting new money and new purpose in all kinds of new places because of its potential to help tame some of the hazards of the modern age, not least climate change.

In London, a start-up is making a plastic substitute out of seaweed. In Australia and Hawaii, others are racing to grow seaweed that, when fed to livestock, can cut methane from cow burps. Researchers are studying just how much carbon dioxide can be sequestered by seaweed farms, as investors eye them as a new source of carbon credits for polluters to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

And in South Korea, one of the most established seaweed growing countries in the world, farmers are struggling to keep up with growing export demand.

But even as its champions see it as a miracle crop for a hotter planet, others worry that the zeal to farm the ocean could replicate some of the same damages of farming on land. Much is unknown about how seaweed farms, particularly those far offshore, can affect marine ecosystems.

“Seaweed protagonists believe seaweed is a cure to everything, that seaweed is a magical panacea for climate problems,” said David Koweek, chief scientist for Ocean Visions, a consortium of research organizations studying ocean-based interventions for the climate crisis. “Seaweed antagonists think seaweed is completely overhyped.”

There’s another problem. Seaweed is itself feeling the impact of climate change, particularly in Asia.

“The water is way too hot,” said Sung-kil Shin, a third-generation seaweed farmer, as he pulled his boat into harbor one morning on Soando Island, just south of the South Korean mainland, where seaweed has long been foraged and farmed…

Read the whole story here.

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