Introducing one of Seagriculture's session topics: The Portuguese seaweed share
When looking at the overarching aquaculture sector as a whole, the Portuguese share in European aquaculture is relatively small: in 2011 the country counted 1453 active companies, and 2300 people were directly employed in the sector. Looking at the total output of the Portuguese aquaculture sector, which amounts to around 9100 tons in 2011, we can see that we are mainly dealing with small familiar production units. To compare, the output of France's aquaculture sector was 283 000 tons in 2011, with only 3300 active companies (European Commission, 2013).
Now, back to seaweed. Portugal knows a geographical division of macroalgae species, with red algae species predominating in the Northern part of the country, and brown algae species predominating in the Southern part (Sousa Pinto, 2015). While the main purpose of seaweed farming has long been for application as fertilizer, the country now grows seaweeds for a variety of uses, in the food-, feed-, energy- and biomedical sector. Currently, Portugal is not among Europe’s star producers, as we can see in Figure 2 below. The country is making efforts, however, through creating awareness, providing training of young people and fishermen, integrating aquaculture with other activities and by doing more aquaculture related research and demonstrations. Also, the country knows local traditions to eat seaweed, and sushi has become very popular over the last years. Local chefs are developing new recipes including seaweeds with success. There is a good number of seaweed experts that can support developments of this activity. There is also a long coast, suitable climate and several policies that place development of marine economy as a priority. In this light, the potential of development of this area and the challenges that have to be overcome will be discussed.
For more information on macroalgae in Portugal, click below!