The following article is from Spore Magazine and introduces seaweed as a commodity. With winter months approaching, there are many coastal areas where seaweed ends up in great quantities on beaches. For years, seaweed has been used in various ways, this article outline a growing global market for this commodity. Bahamians need to see the seaweed as a Marine Resource and exploit its potential as a marketable commodity. Marine algae have become essential ingredients for the manufacture of many food products, textiles, cosmetics and other goods. They offer interesting opportunities for ACP coastal communities, some of which have already moved into seaweed farming. Kiribati has become the world's 15th producer of red seaweed. Stimulated by strong demand from the manufacturing industry, especially the food and textile sectors, seaweed farming is developing rapidly in coastal communities around the world. While harvests of wild seaweed have remained stable at around 1 million t for the past 30 years, global output of farmed seaweed has increased eightfold in the same period. According to FAO figures, production levels of fresh seaweed had already exceeded 8.5 mt by 2003. And experts predict that this steady growth is set to continue. There are several thousand known species of marine macroalgae, classified according to their green, red or brown colour. But only a few dozen are used, and these are becoming increasingly sought after. Much in demand are the red seaweed varieties Chondrus, Eucheuma, Gelidium and Gracilaria and the brown ones Laminaria and Macrocystis . Brown seaweed (5.6 mt in 2003) is the most commonly farmed type, with production easily outstripping that of red seaweed (2.8 mt) whose output, nevertheless, rose by 75% between 1993 and 2003. By contrast, farming of green seaweed, or sea lettuce, is undergoing a sharp decline, with production down to 7,167 t in 2003, compared with 91,169 t in 1993.
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