Kelp cultivation started in Japan, China and Korea, mainly for human consumption; new applications are still expanding. In Chile, three 'wild' Lessonia species and Macrocystis pyrifera are under a strong and increasing pressure of exploitation mainly for alginate production and as a source of feed for abalone. Regulatory restrictions for kelp exploitation and the increased demand for biomass provided a positive environment for the installation of a kelp farming industry. Pilot-production studies demonstrated that 200. tonnes (fresh)/ha/year can be achieved and genetic diversity and breeding studies suggested that this volume could be increased. Kelp disease research is a necessary condition for securing the future development of this industry, as are environmental studies on the impacts of large-scale aquaculture. Beyond the positive bioremediation, ecosystem service effects that kelp farming can provide, especially in a region such as in southern Chile, where intensive salmon and mussel cultivation occurs. Life Cycle Assessment suggests that the energy returns on investment in kelp farming are positive, but more detailed data are still required. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
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