The first edition of the seaweed mariculture conference Seagriculture opened on 7 September, 2022, in Portland, Maine, U.S.A. with keynote speaker Charles Yarish highlighting the opportunities the sector has to grow.
Yarish, a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut said the potential for seaweed aquaculture in the U.S. is enormous.
"We really have a problem in the U.S. We have such an extensive coastline, the very largest exclusive economic zone, yet we [aren’t] players in ... the aquaculture world,” he said. He attributed the lack of seaweed aquaculture to “a number of different reasons” but clearly stated the importance on getting the word out about its potential.
“It’s important to understand the value chain, and to understand what seaweed production can do,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to feed more people, and when we look at the year 2030, we’re gonna have nine billion people. We’re going to have to feed people. And we’re going to have to look at the sea and seaweed production as a part of the solution.”
Yarish said the key for the sector to overcome the obstacles it faces is effective engagement with the U.S. public about the benefits of seaweed aquaculture. He said the public can be won over by stressing the nutritional value of seaweed and the potential economic benefits it can bring to coastal communities in the U.S. By getting more Americans to support the business of seaweed, the viability and the potential success of the sector can be secured, he said.
Yarish also said the sector can benefit from a collaborative approach toward partnerships and research, and such an approach is still possible due to the industry's malleability, as it is still in its infancy in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Bhavana Scalia-Bruce/SeafoodSource