The global production and harvest of seaweeds is now a $7 billion-dollar industry and is expected to grow to $22.1 billion dollars by 2024. However, in California, where demand has skyrocketed, in-state production of edible seaweeds is low, with a market dominated by seaweed products that are produced in Asia. While some commercial wild-harvest of seaweeds is performed in the US, these harvested species have been impacted by environmental change in recent years, leading to inconsistent availability. Regulations limiting the harvests of these species are also highly restrictive.
This project will conduct preliminary research needed to develop new propagation techniques for edible seaweed species that would allow for year-round production in land-based tanks. In partnership with Salt Point Seaweed (SPS), a commercial seaweed harvest and production business operating in Northern California, the researchers plan to develop innovative, effective, and simplified vegetative propagation protocols for three common species of commercially harvested native west-coast Nori: Pyropia perforata, Pyropia nereocystis, and Pyropia abbottiae.
Results from this project will help inform seaweed farming operations in California, with the potential to create new opportunities for the west coast seaweed industry to meet growing consumer demand. Research will also be shared with scientists working to restore giant kelp and bull kelp, which may benefit from similar propagation techniques for seaweed restoration and reseeding.