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An Update from the Macroalgae Working Group

The inaugural meeting of the Macroalgae Working Group was held during the Algae Biomass Summit on September 18, 2020.  Attendees included producers, end users, researchers, government agencies, and NGOs from around the world.

The group discussed a broad range of topics impacting the seaweed industry and had a robust discussion on what the working group should focus on. The group agreed that ABO, through this working group, should establish a scope and framework to bring science, extension and industry together to address gaps and needs in policy, regulatory frameworks, and industry standards, with particular attention on production practices and offshore production.

Seaweed farming can be truly regenerative and profitable aquaculture with significantly positive social impacts, including creating sustainable jobs. The group was in general agreement that since the seaweed industry is in its fledgling stages, that now is the time to set the principles on what it looks like to do this business well: creating fair trade guidelines, building the science, working on occupational and food safety, opening markets, creating industry standards, and doing so in a way that brings associated groups and businesses together under the umbrella of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the follow on effort from the UN Millennium Goals.

With these goals in mind, the group would like to give special focus to the ecosystem services for ocean health provided by seaweed farming, with detailed ecological accounting to capture the “trickle” effects.

It was noted by participants that some issues are very local, and require specific, local responses to resolve. The Macroalgae Working Group will need to include in their framework tools or guides that the industry can use in building rapport and collaboration with their local partners. 

ABO is not the only group working putting together efforts to bolster the seaweed industry. Another critical discussion point from the working group was the need to identify and interface with other groups such as the Seaweed Hub and the organizers of the Seaweed Manifesto to ensure maximum effects of efforts and to prevent duplication of work.

The call to action following this meeting is for interested parties to become members of ABO and join the Macroalgae Working Group to create the necessary momentum to push forward on these efforts. Next steps will be to flesh out the framework, scope or work, and pursue funding opportunities for this work.

If you are interested in the Macroalgae Working Group, or have questions about membership, please contact ABO Executive Director, Rebecca White, at rwhite@algaebiomass.org.

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