Oceans cover 71% of Earth’s surface and contain 97% of Earth’s water. Not surprisingly, the oceans are the largest source of biotic diversity on the planet. It is estimated that as much as 80% of all life on Earth is found under the ocean surface and an estimated 90% of all photosynthetic life occurs in the oceans. This means that seaweeds and the microscopic algae of the ocean make up roughly nine tenths of all the plant-like life on Earth.
To meet carbon emissions targets, more than 30 countries have committed to boosting production of renewable resources from biological materials and convert them into products such as food, animal feed and bioenergy. In a post-fossil-fuel world, an increasing proportion of chemicals, plastics, textiles, fuels and electricity will have to come from biomass, which takes up land. To maintain current consumption trends the world will also need to produce 50–70% more food by 2050, increasingly under drought conditions and on poor soils.
Producing large volumes of seaweeds for human food, animal feed and biofuels could represent a transformational change in the global food security equation and in the way we view and use the oceans
Benefits Of Seaweed Production.
FACTS ABOUT SEAWEED
1. Most of the world’s oxygen (about 70%) comes from seaweeds and other microscopic algae.
2. Seaweeds support primary production levels that are 6-10 times greater that the most intensive land-based agricultural systems.
3. It is estimated that there are nine times more microscopic algae and seaweeds in the oceans than there are plants on land.
4. Together with microscopic algae called phytoplankton, seaweeds (macroscopic algae) are responsible for all primary production in the oceans and, therefore, form the basis of the food chain in the oceans.
5. Seaweeds are amongst the fastest growing organisms on the planet. For example, under optimal conditions, the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera, can grow nearly a metre (three foot) a day – attaining lengths in excess of 50m.
6. While most seaweeds are soft and fleshy, a large number of particularly red seaweeds are hard as rock. These hard red seaweeds, commonly known as coralline algae, deposit lime into their cell walls.
7. Strictly speaking, seaweeds are not plants. Only green seaweeds are considered plants as they have given rise to land plants. However, like plants, most algae and seaweeds depend on sunlight to create energy through photosynthesis.
8. Many argue that red seaweeds should be placed in a kingdom all of their own. They are the only group of organisms on the planet that possess three life cycle stages.
9. Seaweeds assimilate minerals directly from the sea and are thought to be the single most nutritious foods that you can eat. Rich in trace elements and vitamins, many of them frequently contain more protein than meat and more calcium than milk.
10. The word seaweed is so commonly used, yet to refer to these marine algae as ‘weeds’ is very far from the truth. Although we often cannot smell or taste them, many ingredients in our foods and household products come from the sea and from seaweeds.