Seaweed aquaculture is a growing industry in the United States and worldwide. The most commonly farmed seaweed in the US is sugar kelp, but this industry could be challenged by future climate change—wild kelp populations are sensitive to rising temperature and marine heatwaves. As yet uncultivated seaweed species may prove more resilient to climate change.
The seaweed Laminaria farlowii, a kelp native to Southern California, has uses as both feed for abalone aquaculture and human food. This project will assess the climate change resilience of the species. The project will also assess the potential economic value of cultivation, working with a local abalone farming company to assess its value as abalone forage.
The researchers will also produce a cultivation guide that will be made available to industry, resource managers, and other stakeholders. The project also supports the first California Seaweed Fair, which will raise public awareness, and bring together the nascent California seaweed industry, in a celebration of all things seaweed.