The Renewed Interest in The Western World for The Cultivation of Seaweeds, as The Inorganic Extractive Component of IMTA Systems, and for The Ecosystem Services They Provide

Published on: 5/18/2017
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Seaweed cultivation is well established in Asia and needs little explanation/justification. In the western world, a renewed interest in seaweed mariculture has been triggered by their cultivation in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems, the emerging understanding of the ecosystem services they provide (e.g. nutrient biomitigation, irrigation-less and deforestation-less food production, oxygen provision, habitat restoration, carbon sequestration, coastal acidification reduction, etc.), and the development of novel uses/applications. 
 
To bestow full value to seaweeds and IMTA, extractive species need to be valued for not only their biomass and food trading values, but also for the ecosystem services they provide within a circular economy framework. The value of these ecosystem services needs to be recognized, accounted for and used as financial and regulatory incentive tools (e.g. nutrient trading credits). 
 
The IMTA multi-crop diversification approach (fish, seaweeds and invertebrates) could be an economic risk mitigation/management option to address pending climate change and coastal acidification impacts.
 
 
Extractive aquaculture of seaweeds/aquatic plants/mollusks/crustaceans/non-fed finfish now represents 54.4 %, but is unevenly distributed worldwide and needs to increase. For example, 97.6 % of seaweed aquaculture is concentrated in six Asian countries (China, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Malaysia). Consequently, if aquaculture is to make a major contribution to the efficient and responsible food production systems of the future, geographical diversification is also needed.
 
It is time to make the Blue Revolution greener and apply agronomic principles to the management of aquatic environments and “aquatic fields”, i.e. it is time for the Turquoise Revolution and aquanomy.
 
Humans will soon not be able to continue thinking of mostly land-based agronomic solutions and fed finfish aquaculture operations for securing their food, or for providing many other derived products. They will have to turn, increasingly, to responsible aquanomy, as we enter a new era of ecosystem responsible aquaculture.
 
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