Seaweed is harvested throughout the world as a food source as well as an export commodity for the production of agar and carrageenan products. Seaweed has been cultured traditionally for decades and probably for centuries in several Asian nations such as China, Korea and Japan. Until about 1980, most of the seaweed production from other nations in the region has been from the harvest of wild stocks although limited culture took place in nations such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
As early as the 1970s, it was recognized that demand for seaweed and seaweed products was outstripping supply and cultivation was viewed as the best means to increase production. The profitable nature of seaweed farming also became evident and accelerated its expansion. Seaweed farming has frequently been suggested as both a means to improve economic conditions and a means to reduce fishing pressure.
The following are the eight steps in farming eucheuma seaweeds:
- Selection of site
- Acquisition of permit to farm
- Preparation of required materials
- Clearing and posting
- Preparation of seedlings and planting
- Building a farm house
- Maintenance of planted seaweeds
- Harvesting and drying
Site selection is one of the most important factors in seaweed farming. In selecting the site, the
following factors are to be considered:
- The area should be free from pollution caused by floods, rivers, and such other sources of water pollution that would be detrimental to the growth of seaweeds. Furthermore, freshwater from rivers or creeks will decrease the salinity of seawater and its temperature thus causing to seaweeds. The temperature of the seawater should be between 27° and 30° Centigrade and the salinity should be maintained at 30 to 34 parts per thousand (PPT).
- The area must be well-protected from tidal waves and strong winds coming from an open sea. There should be an island or coral reefs to act as barriers during low tide to cover the area in order to prevent destruction and/or disturbance of seaweeds planted. Wave action greatly affects the growth of seaweeds and usually destroys them.
- There must be enough water current that will bring in food with a velocity of 20 to 40 meters per minute which can bend eel grasses to a 45 degree angle. Eucheuma seaweeds eat their food from water nutrients through tiny pores within their body and these nutrients are brought in by water current. Furthermore, euchema maintains cleanliness and freshness of seawater.
- Local residents must be asked to determine whether there were wild eucheuma previously growing in the area which would be more advantageous to the project. In case no wild eucheuma were growing in the area test on some plants must be conducted to determine their growth rate. The test period should be from 2-6 weeks.
- Sea bottom must be covered with some dead finger corals and coarser sand and should be rocky not muddy, with few vegetations preferably only of the species of brown, red and green algae.
- The depthness of the water at lowest tide mark should be at least 1 1/2 to 3 feet (45 cm to 90 cm.) to the highest tide mark of at least 7 feet (210 cm.). It should be determined so that seaweeds will not be over exposed to sunlight and air during low tide but should be exposed to enough sunlight penetration during high tide.
- Test plants of eucheuma seaweeds should be done in the proposed area. Weigh your seedlings first and tie them to corals. As recommended, seedlings should weigh from 150 to 200 grams from fresh branches. These will be placed in different parts of the proposed area with a distance of at least 10 meters apart. Every week, these test plants should be weighed until the sixth week to determine the average daily growth rate. If the daily growth rate is from 2.5% to 4%, then the area is suitable for commercial seaweed farming.
Acquisition of Permit to Farm
The proposed area must be surveyed by a geodetic engineer to determine the area’s bearings and the exact size intended for the project. Once location bearing is determined including the total area in square meters, the applicant should acquire an official application form from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). He can then prepare all the necessary requirements as provided for by law. Guidelines promulgated by the (BFAR) must be followed to the fullest to avoid cancellation of the application. It should be noted that the application should be approved first before a permit is issued and before commercial farming commences.
Preparation of Required Materials
The following materials must be prepared based on a one hectare seaweeds farm:
- 1,200 mangrove posts measuring more or less 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 meter in length
- 20 kilograms of nylon line number 150 to 200
- 20 kilograms of plastic tie straw
- one banca
- 40,000 seedlings weighing from 150-200 grams each or a total equivalence of 6,000 kilograms
- markers and signboard
- seedling bed for at least 25 square meters or a floating bamboo seedbed.
- 2 pointed iron or locally called “baras”
- 2 bull hammer weighing 5 kilograms
source: Seaweeds, An Industry Profile DA-AMAS, photo from en.wikipedia.org