Brown Seaweed Harvesting

and Production

By: Veronica Suarez

June 25, 2023


Brown seaweed, also known as brown algae, has proven to have diverse uses and incredible ecological benefits. However, harvesting and producing brown seaweed offers both advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of brown algae harvesting and production while shedding light on its potential.

Benefits of Seaweed  

CO2 Absorption

Brown seaweed has the phenomenal ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, it captures CO2 from the atmosphere. Although numbers have varied by study, it is estimated that seaweed absorbs about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Because of this, cultivation and harvesting of seaweed can play a huge role in fighting climate change.

Ecosystem Balance  

Seaweed acts as a natural filter by absorbing excess nutrients, such as nitrogen, from the water. Through seaweed harvesting and production, we remove these excess nutrients from the ocean. This enhances water quality and restores ecological balance. However, when seaweed is cut during the harvesting process, some of the nutrients absorbed can be released back into the ocean. 

Diverse Uses

Brown seaweed supports sustainable production as it can be used to make textile fibers or leather alternatives. Additionally, it can be found in protein products, bread, ice cream,toothpaste, tortilla chips, beer, and more. The versatility of brown seaweed makes it a valuable resource. 

Alternative to Land Agriculture

Farming brown seaweed, and seaweed in general, is more efficient and eco-friendlier than farming land crops. No land, freshwater, fertilizers, or pesticides are needed for brown seaweed production. Best of all, it grows rapidly and is sustainable.


Negatives of Seaweed  

Increased Sunlight  

Since brown seaweed floats on the surface of the ocean, it can block sunlight from entering the ocean. By carefully removing excess brown seaweed, light can effectively reach marine organisms that need this sunlight for survival.

Unbalanced Ecosystem

While harvesting seaweed can help restore ecological balance, overharvesting can have the opposite effect. Poor harvesting techniques or overharvesting can cause an ecosystem disruption by damaging the seabed, removing vital nutrients, and drastically altering the overall structure of the marine ecosystem. You can determine if you are overharvesting by examining the size and age of the seaweed being harvested, observing population trends, and monitoring the rates at which harvested areas can regenerate seaweed. When overharvesting occurs, the rate of the seaweed being harvested will exceed the natural regeneration capacity of seaweed in the area. 

Water Pollution

Improper methods of seaweed farming can accumulate waste in the ocean such as anchors, ropes, and other non-degradable materials that are used in the harvesting process. Effective waste management strategies are necessary to reduce or avoid this waste.


Good Harvesting Habits

Evidently, harvesting and producing brown seaweed has massive potential for combating climate change, improving the environment, and innovating agriculture as we know it. However, we must approach this new form of agriculture in a responsible way. By implementing sustainable harvesting and production methods, we can maximize the environmental benefits. Good harvesting habits requires consistent monitoring and regulation of harvesting area, harvesting only mature seaweed, and leaving the younger population untouched so they can grow to full maturity, establishment of rest periods (rest periods will vary based on local conditions) to allow the seaweed to regenerate and setting limits to the amount harvested, avoiding any technique, such as dredging, that would damage other marine life, following local regulations and guidelines, and monitoring the seaweed population or habitat condition.