“Seaweeds and Microalgae: An Overview for Unlocking their Potential in Aquaculture Development” is a comprehensive analysis carried out by FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and external experts. It provides a balanced overview of the algae sector with a focus on its contribution and potential in global aquaculture development.
Abstract: Algae, including seaweeds and microalgae, contribute nearly 30 percent of world aquaculture production (measured in wet weight), primarily from seaweeds. Seaweeds and microalgae generate socio-economic benefits to tens of thousands of households, primarily in coastal communities, including numerous women empowered by seaweed cultivation. Various human health contributions, environmental benefits and ecosystem services of seaweeds and microalgae have drawn increasing attention to untapped potential of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Highly imbalanced production and consumption across geographic regions implies a great potential in the development of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Yet joint efforts of governments, the industry, the scientific community, international organizations, civil societies, and other stakeholders or experts are needed to realize the potential. This document examines the status and trends of global algae production with a focus on algae cultivation, recognizes the algae sector’s existing and potential contributions and benefits, highlights a variety of constraints and challenges over the sector’s sustainable development, and discusses lessons learned and way forward to unlock full potential in algae cultivation and FAO’s roles in the process. From a balanced perspective that recognizes not only the potential of algae but also constraints and challenges upon the realization of the potential, information and knowledge provided by this document can facilitate evidence-based policymaking and sector management in algae development at the global, regional and national levels.
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