- Seaweed farming is an more and more vital a part of the worldwide meals system and supplies a spread of advantages, together with sustainable coastal livelihoods and financial diversification, meals manufacturing, export income, local weather change mitigation and adaptation, air pollution management, and natural fertilizer.
- Sri Lanka used to have a outstanding seaweed market within the Thirties, however at present there’s solely restricted, small-scale seaweed farming within the nation, principally with out processing or worth addition.
- With larger investments of cash, expertise, and know-how, Sri Lanka may supply the proper location to domesticate seaweed both by itself or as built-in mariculture, for instance with shrimps, mollusks, or sea cucumbers, specialists say.
- Farming seaweed in Sri Lanka may very well be a viable and extremely useful a part of increasing the blue economic system if preliminary challenges are overcome and coastal communities engaged with assist, steering, expertise, and high quality management, specialists say.
COLOMBO — In its territorial waters and unique financial zone, Sri Lanka is residence to an abundance of coastal and marine sources. And whereas nationwide insurance policies and improvement visions already purpose towards a blue economic system, a lot of this pure wealth is at present not being utilized in a sustainable method or to its full potential, specialists say.
“Coastal fishing communities are weak,” says Ruchira Cumaranatunga, a senior professor within the Division of Fisheries and Aquaculture on the College of Ruhuna. “There’s a must create or improve different livelihoods in coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Whereas serving to coastal fishermen to maintain their fishery actions, they need to be supplied with extra sources of earnings. The perfect methodology for this could be to advertise small- and medium-sized enterprises based mostly on fish processing, utilization of fishery waste or trash fish, and seaweed farming. Girls and faculty dropouts in fisher households may very well be concerned in these SMEs.”
The advantages of seaweed
Seaweed farming particularly presents a pathway for creating the blue economic system and creating sustainable livelihoods, proponents say. Globally, seaweed aquaculture is without doubt one of the fastest-growing elements of meals manufacturing, with 99% of manufacturing happening in Asia. If the sector is scaled up additional, it may generate 500 million metric tons dry weight by 2050 and fully exchange fishmeal and fish oil in animal feed, present protein for people, and save huge quantities of land and freshwater. There are various different methods wherein seaweed is helpful for people, the surroundings, and the local weather.
The commercially precious kinds of seaweeds are species of algae that usually fall into three teams: inexperienced algae (Chlorophyta spp.), purple algae (Rhodophyta spp,), and brown algae (Phaeophyta spp.). The completely different species of seaweed have many makes use of, and farming them has a small environmental footprint, as they don’t considerably alter the present coastal surroundings or require fertilizer enter, freshwater sources, or medicines.
“Seaweed species like Ulva lactuca [sea lettuce], Caulerpa racemosa, or Caulerpa lentillifera [sea grapes] are common delicacies,” says Isuru U. Kariyawasam, a lecturer within the Division of Botany of the College of Sri Jayewardenepura. “As well as, chemical compounds extracted from seaweeds might be broadly used as nutraceuticals, prescription drugs, UV blockers, anti-cancer compounds, and plenty of different purposes.”
Dilanthi Koralagama, a senior lecturer on the College of Ruhuna, says seaweed farming may present inputs for the natural fertilizer trade as properly. “As some seaweeds and microalgae comprise comparatively excessive percentages of nitrogen,” she says, “points associated to nitrogen content material in natural manure might be solved as much as an extent, which isn’t attainable utilizing terrestrial flora and fodder alone.”
Seaweed might be grown quickly and vertically, which makes environment friendly use of obtainable water house and supplies a possibility to diversify the coastal blue economic system. Nonetheless, offering a sustainable supply of earnings and employment for coastal communities is barely one of many many advantages and alternatives that seaweed may present.
“Seaweed farming can present different livelihoods,” says Sarath Jayanatha, analysis officer on the Nationwide Aquatic Assets Analysis and Improvement Company (NARA). “Revenue era is a serious output of seaweed farming, but when it may be initiated on bigger scales, seaweed is also vital to mitigate local weather change.”
Seaweed is extremely versatile and helpful relating to addressing the causes and impacts of local weather change. On one hand, seaweed shops carbon dioxide, and can be utilized for biofuel era, changing inorganic fertilizer, or reducing methane emissions as cattle feed. However, seaweed is an efficient adaptation software that may scale back wave vitality and shield shorelines, enhance water high quality, and alleviate the native results of ocean acidification and oxygen loss.
Moreover, seaweed can be utilized to wash up air pollution within the marine and coastal surroundings by eradicating agricultural nutrient air pollution. Such air pollution is tough to take away as soon as it has entered the water, and seaweed is without doubt one of the few efficient strategies to deal with it.
Seaweed farming in Sri Lanka
“At the moment, seaweed farming is barely completed on a small scale in Sri Lanka,” Cumaranatunga says. “The seaweed is dried and exported with none worth addition. Sri Lanka has numerous dwelling and non-living sources within the coastal belt, however for the time being, they’re extracted and offered to different nations. Worth addition inside Sri Lanka may very well be a vastly vital matter.”
Sri Lanka’s shoreline abounds with seaweed species and habitats, for instance alongside the southwest coast from Ambalangoda to Galle, or alongside the northern shoreline close to Jaffna, Palk Strait, and the Gulf of Mannar.
“Seaweed farming or cultivation is an inexpensive, low-technology apply that requires little enter and has been practiced in lots of Asian nations for many years or centuries,” Kariyawasam says. “Nonetheless, in Sri Lanka, it’s nonetheless in its infancy. We’ve got many sheltered bays, lagoons and estuaries that may very well be used, however to this point, no large-scale makes an attempt have been made to determine seaweed mariculture within the nation.”
If such large-scale makes an attempt could be made and seaweed farming enhanced alongside the coastal sector and its blue economic system, Kariyawasam says, it opens up a way forward for many prospects: “Built-in Multitrophic Mariculture (IMM) programs are a really efficient and sustainable methodology to tradition seaweeds. Seaweed may very well be farmed in polycultures with shrimps and molluscs and even assist to deal with issues of aquatic air pollution and effluent water therapy for present shrimp farms. Seaweed mariculture is also built-in with sea cucumber farming to open up novel avenues for sustainable mariculture programs.”
Koralagama highlights the financial potential: “Some seaweed species present edible protein and are advisable as a dietary complement. Rising such seaweeds for export may carry overseas alternate into the nation, as there may be already a well-established market in creating nations.”
Challenges and views for Sri Lanka
Given all these advantages and purposes, what’s the potential for seaweed farming in Sri Lanka? Whether it is certainly a viable supply of livelihoods that provides a spread of co-benefits, why has it not been adopted at a bigger scale but?
Jayanatha from NARA says many corporations try to get subsidies by seaweed initiatives. “Due to this fact, many of those corporations usually are not keen to speculate their very own cash,” he provides.
“You will need to word that seaweed farming requires ample capital and correct technical know-how to be arrange,” Koralagama says. “Due to this fact, assist from the non-public sector is important to scale up the seaweed trade in Sri Lanka.”
Even with monetary assist, nevertheless, there are nonetheless obstacles and challenges that should be overcome, Kariyawasam mentioned. “A number of the constraints to construct a powerful seaweed trade in Sri Lanka are lack of expertise and information, lack of expertise dissemination, lack of seed shares, private attitudes and lack of motivation amongst fishing communities, environmental fluctuations, and the quick, seasonal lifecycles of sure seaweed species. Sri Lanka had a strong seaweed market within the Thirties, however it was misplaced because of adulterations completed by our individuals. Due to this fact, it is vitally vital to make excessive export-quality shares when bettering the seaweed trade in Sri Lanka.”
The scope to develop seaweed aquaculture can also be restricted by the provision of appropriate areas, competitors for these areas with different makes use of, the provision of engineering programs able to dealing with tough sea circumstances, and market demand for seaweed merchandise.
Because the world more and more turns into conscious of the potential of a sustainable blue economic system, investing in seaweed may present many advantages for Sri Lanka, the specialists say. Along with offering a comparatively low cost and low-technology possibility for financial diversification of coastal communities, they level out, seaweed farming additionally presents a spread of use circumstances in addition to severe co-benefits associated to local weather change mitigation, resilience, environmental safety, and air pollution cleanup.
Banner picture of seaweed on the seashore close to Mannar in northern Sri Lanka, courtesy of Dilanthi Koralagama.