The Value of Seaweed

The Value of Seaweed

Jasmine Kohli, Staff Writer

Seaweed is a popular snack/ingredient found in many East Asian countries – particularly, in Japan. Seaweed is a great source of protein and is known for its briny and salty taste, but it is also a great solution to climate change. Found primarily in oceans and seas, seaweed can reconstruct marine ecosystems, absorb carbon dioxide, and create renewable plastics.

Reducing acidification and providing a habitat for marine organisms are just two reasons why seaweed is very beneficial to the marine ecosystem. Seaweed farming can reduce acidification (the process of making or becoming an acid) in the ocean. Acidification can be very harmful to marine life as organisms like coral and plankton are unable to form their shells/skeletons. Moving forward, seaweed can provide a habitat for animals such as prawns, snails, fish, etc. Many marine animals are drawn to kelp forests for protection and food.

Land-based plants such as trees require fertilizer and fresh water in order to grow. Seaweed requires neither fertilizer nor fresh water and grows at a much faster rate than trees or other land-based plants. Similar to land-based plants, seaweed uses photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide into seaweed biomass. The sea plant produces 70% more oxygen than most land-based plants and also stores around 175 million tonnes of carbon every year.

Seaweed has also been researched for its ability to be used as a replacement for plastic. In an experiment dealing with plastic cups, seaweed was found to easily break down in a matter of four to six weeks, while other biodegradable cups made from starches take a long time to decompose. Due to seaweed being easy to harvest/extract and its availability all around the world, the plant is now a major competitor when it comes to alternatives for things like plastic.

Seaweed has many benefits: it can regenerate a marine ecosystem, absorb more carbon dioxide than land-based plants, and can be used as a replacement for plastic. The sea plant is enjoyed all around the world and is a fan favorite for many scientists and farmers.