South African seaweed aquaculture: A sustainable development example for other African coastal countries

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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

The green seaweed Ulva is one of South Africa's most important aquaculture products, constituting an important feed source particularly for abalone (Haliotis midae L.), and utilized as a bioremediation tool and other benefits such as biomass for biofuel production and for integrated aquaculture. Besides Ulva spp, Gracilaria spp. are also cultivated. Wild seaweed harvest in South Africa totals 7,602 mt, compared to 2,015 mt of cultivated Ulva. To mitigate for the reliance on wild harvesting, the South African seaweed aquaculture industry has grown rapidly over the past few decades. On-land integrated culture units, with paddle-wheel raceways, are now widely viewed as the preferred method of production for the industry. The success of seaweed aquaculture in South Africa is due to a number of natural and human (industrial) factors. The development of the seaweed aquaculture industry has paralleled the growth of the abalone industry, and has been successful largely because of bilateral technology transfer and innovation between commercial abalone farms and research institutions. In South Africa seaweeds have been used commercially as feedstock for phycocolloid production, for the production of abalone feed, and the production of Kelpak and Afrikelp, which are plant-growth stimulants used in the agricultural sector. Additionally, Ulva is being investigated for large-scale biogas production. The South African seaweed industry provides a template that could be used by other coastal African nations to further their undeveloped aquaculture potential.