Sep 30, 2009

Use Seaweed Extract in Your Garden

Liquid seaweed extract is something that many people would not think is something they would ever use in their garden but you should think again.

Seaweed has been use for agriculture and gardening for hundred of years and there is even a system used in Northern Ireland and Scotland called "lazy beds". These were long ridged beds which used to have seaweed dug into them as a fertilizer. The seaweed was washed to remove salt, presumably by letting the rain do the work, and then dug underneath the surface of the soil. They were used to grow potatoes in on often very poor and peaty soil.

People living near to the coast are still able to collect and used seaweed like this and if you are lucky enough to be able to do this please make sure that you only collect seaweed which is on the shore, not seaweed which is still attached to rocks. This is still growing and although harvested commercially this is done by experienced collectors. Seaweed is a favourite in compost bins.

For gardeners like me who cannot gather their own seaweed from the seashore, I can buy commercially produced organic seaweed extract which has a lot of benefits to the soil mix in my High Density Garden as seaweed and can do the same for your garden.

Seaweed is not really a fertilizer but it quickly decomposes and releases alginates in to your soil mix. This is a jelly like substance which helps to develop the humus content of your soil and also helps to bind the crumbs of soil together. It also acts in your soil as a plant tonic and a growth stimulant as well. Having said that, seaweed and seaweed extract does contain the major plant nutrients but in fairly small quantities. They also contain many trace elements as well.

Tests have been carried out which show that applying seaweed extract has helped to promote strong and healthy growth in vegetables as well as other garden plants. It also has the added benefit of helping to improve resistance to fungal and insect attacks. It has also been demonstrated that its use helps reduce symptoms of transplanting shock, as well as heat and frost damage. I use a liquid seaweed extract from one of the major suppliers which I dilute and water on to the surface of my soil mix. I also have an automatic feed system for the tomatoes and cucumbers in my greenhouse and I often add seaweed extract to the fertilizer tank so this is automatically applied to my crops.

Seaweed extract is a good addition to your garden soil and I am happy to use it so it is something you need to consider as well. I buy it in half gallon containers, (about 2 litres), but it can be bought in smaller sizes as well. There are also companies which sell seaweed extract in 220 gallon, 1000L containers. This is far too much to use in a normal backyard but it is aimed at farmers and places like golf courses. These commercial users would not be paying a lot of money for a product which does not do anything so I follow their lead and if it is good enough for them, then seaweed extract is good enough for my High Density Vegetable Garden.

Sep 29, 2009

Health Benefits of Seaweed


In the Chinese Book of Poetry, written almost 3000 years ago, there is a poem that describes a woman who cooks sea plants. Always considered a delicacy, Asians also offered sea plants during sacrifices to the ancestors.

Today, we know the plants as seaweed, which has many health benefits:

  • According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, authors of Vegetables from the Sea, “All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc are present in sufficient amounts. In addition, there are many trace elements in seaweeds.” Edible plants from the sea also contain important vitamins including vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Analysis has shown trace amounts of vitamin B12, which rarely occurs in land vegetables.

  • Sea vegetables classified as brown algae, including arame, hijiki, kombu and wakame, have been shown to cleanse the body of toxic pollutants. Specifically, scientific research has demonstrated that these plants, which are abundant in alginic acid, bind with any heavy metals in the intestines, render them indigestible, and cause them to be eliminated from the body.

  • Seaweed feeds the shafts and the ducts of the scalp to help improve the health of the hair. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables such as arame. Research has shown that minerals are important to healthy hair growth, and arame has a high mineral content.

  • Other health benefits, according to Carlson Wade’s book Health Secrets from the Orient, include regulating the hormones, enriching the bloodstream, assisting in metabolism, promoting a youthful skin color, and helping to warm the body to promote mental youthfulness.

Seaweed has always been part of the staple diet of the Asians, who lived near the sea and depended upon it for sustenance. It may well be the “secret” for a long and healthy life for you.

Many health shops and oriental grocery houses sell seaweed in various forms. In dried form, it may be used as part of a raw vegetable salad or crumbled and sprinkled over a salad as a natural tangy seasoning. You may also use seaweed as a snack, together with a fresh, raw vegetable juice.

Sep 28, 2009

Seaweed: Rhodophyta

The Rhodophyta are a unique group of organisms, which, like the Chlorophyta, are thought to be very ancient. No cell, including reproductive cells, is ever flagellated. Like the Chlorophyta, the chloroplast is encircled by a double membrane, but thylakoids occur singly and are not stacked.

Only chlorophyll a is present, and cells are distinctively colored by the accessory pigments, phycocyanin and phycoerythrin, which occur in hemispheric granules on the thylakoids. The photosynthetic product is a highly branched form of starch and is stored outside the chloroplast. Most red algae belong to the Class Floideophyceae, which is characterized by proteinaceious "pit" plugs occluding the connection between cells (due to incomplete cell cleavage at mitosis). Most red algae are multicellular and marine, but unicellular and freshwater taxa also occur.

Sep 27, 2009

Brown Seaweeds

Brown seaweeds are the most common type of seaweed found on rocky beaches. They normally have a method to strongly attach themselves to rock surfaces.The brown colour of the seaweed is due to the brown pigment fucoxanthin overriding the green pigment chlorophyll. Both pigments are used in the photosynthesis of light, fucoxanthin improving the process when the algae is covered by water.

Each species has its own niche on the shore, the major factors being the amount of time they are left uncovered by the tide and the degree of shelter the beach offers. These niches are often strongly defined allowing the species of brown seaweed found on a beach to be used to zone it, or classify it shelter or exposure level, particularly relevant in the case of the wracks.

The richest area of brown seaweed with its accompanying abundant animal life is the kelp forest. This forest is rarely seen, its fringe only being uncovered with spring tides. The forest is dominated by large brown seaweeds such as kelp. These large seaweeds have strong holdfasts to grip the rock face, but with strong storms even these are ripped from the forest, the seaweeds becoming stranded en masse on the shore. After a storm not only will the seaweed thrown up on the beach, but even the anchorage rock the plant was attached to. This is the only easy opportunity to study these seaweeds.

Species of Brown Seaweeds In Cornwall:
Thongweed Himanthalia elongata
Japweed Sargassum muticum
Sea Lace Corda filum
Sea Balls Leathesia difformis

Thongweed Himanthalia elongata

The major distinctive feature of this seaweed is its mushroom shaped disk. The disc is about an inch across. From the disc grows a long branched frond reaching up to 6 feet in

length, on which the conceptacles form. The frond is eventually detached, leaving the disc behind.

Mushroom Shaped Disk

Thongweed Himanthalia elongata

Sea Lace Corda filum

Long boot lace like seaweed attached to the sea floor, by a holdfast with fronds easily reaching twenty feet in length.

The fronds are flexible and very tough, tending to become hollow with age. They are slimy and covered with small hairs.

Sea Lace Corda filum

Sea Balls Leathesia difformis

Now and again small ball like seaweeds get washed ashore. These are Leathesia difformis a stalkless epiphyte.

This epiphyte fastens itself to rocks and other seaweeds.

Japweed Sargassum muticum

Introduced from the Pacific it is thought to have been imported with oysters by accident. This fast growing seaweed is a threat to some native flora which it out competes. It has been in British waters for less than forty years, and it has already got a strong foothold in Cornwall.

Japweed Sargassum muticum

Their branched fronds reach a meter in length. The branches have flotation bladders and receptacles.

Japweed Sargassum muticum. Branches with flotation bladders.

Flotation Bladders

Sep 24, 2009

Porphyra pp. ('Kim' in Korean)

The thallus of the erect frond of Porphyra species is in the form of a flat, lanceolate or broadly elliptical blade. The fronds are composed entirely of either small rectangular or rounded cells which are arranged in one or, more rarely, two cell layers. They are dark purplish to brownish red. In the wild, Porphyra species normally grow attached to rocks or as epiphytes in the intertidal or shallow subtidal and are generally highly seasonal in their appearance and growth.

There are about 16 species of Porphyra growing on the coast of Korea. Common cultivated strains of Porphyra in Korea are: Porphyra yezoensis, P. tenera and P. kuniedae (Kang 1972). Since 1980, many strains have been introduced from Japan in a free-living conchocelis condition. These new strains have contributed to the increased production of Porphyra in Korea but not to its quality. The current trend in the Porphyra industry is towards harvest of wild P. kuniedae, P. dentata and P. seriata at the south-west coast, owing to the high market price of its dried laver.

Cultivation history of seaweed began with Porphyra. According to the oldest records on Porphyra the alga was processed by chopping and drying earlier than 1425 (Bae 1991). Another story, passed from generation to generation, tells that it was in 1623-1649 that Porphyra was cultivated around Taein Island when a fisherman found some floating bamboo twigs with Porphyra attached to them and began his own cultivation by planting bamboo twigs along the sea shore (Kang and Koh 1977). This bambo twig cultivation method was used until 1986 around Taein Island and its vicinity on the south coast. The method is no longer in use.

Seeding of Porphyra is usually done in March or April. Oyster shells are used as they can be obtained cheaply and easily from oyster culture grounds. The conchocelis filaments grow densely within these shells. The seeding shells are laid and cultured on the floor of shallow concrete tanks or wooden boxes which are covered with polyethylene film. Alternatively the oyster shells may be tied into string in sets of 10 and dangled from rods to be suspended in deep tanks of seawater. Cultivation nets are seeded with spores from the conchocelis phase within the oyster shells from late September to early October. During this period, the seawater temperature begins to drop below 22-23℃. The temperature during this period is variable depending on where the cultivation grounds are located.

Oyster shells, containing the Porphyra conchocelis, are applied to groups of cultivation nets (30-50 nets, approximately 1.8×4m in size), which are tied to bamboo or PVC frames. Each set of nets has about 100 shells laid on top, then all of the nets are covered with a polyethylene envelope (Sohn and Kain 1989a). Modified methods are being implemented mainly in the south-west region. Large sections of net (approximately 1.8×20m) are grouped into larger sheets (1.8×40m). Then about 150 oyster shells are crushed into small pieces and enclosed in a slender polyethylene sac which is placed on each set of cultivation nets.

Sep 23, 2009

Green algae

The "green algae" is the most diverse group of algae, with more than 7000 species growing in a variety of habitats. The "green algae" is a paraphyletic group because it excludes the Plantae. Like the plants, the green algae contain two forms of chlorophyll, which they use to capture light energy to fuel the manufacture of sugars, but unlike plants they are primarily aquatic. Because they are aquatic and manufacture their own food, these organisms are called "algae," along with certain members of the Chromista, the Rhodophyta, and photosynthetic bacteria, even though they do not share a close relationship with any of these groups.

The above picture shows a dense growth of sea lettuce (Ulva), growing in a tide pool at the Berkeley Marina. This is a marine species of "green algae" often found attached to rocks, and exposed at low tide.

Over 5,000 species of green algae are known, mostly unicells or simple filaments from fresh water, but there are diverse green algae in tropical marine habitats. Like land plants, the greens store starch (amylose or amylopectin) and have chlorophyll a and b as well as secondary pigments : carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin. (Some Chlorophyta also have siphonoxanthin.) The chloroplast endoplasmic reticulum is absent in green algae, and t heir cell walls are often composed of cellulose, hydroxproline, glycosides, xylans, mannans or sometimes calcium carbonate.

Sep 22, 2009

Red Slime Algae (Cyanobacteria)

Red slime algae is actually not a "true" algae at all, but classified as a cyanobacteria. Often considered to be the evolutionary link between bacteria and algae, cyanobacteria are one of the oldest forms of life on earth and date back at least 3.5 billion years.
These organisms produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, and scientists believe that if it weren't for this microscopic organism, there would be no blue skies on Earth. Commonly referred to as "red slime" algae, the name cyanobacteria literally means "blue-green" algae. Despite the naming, only about half of these organisms are actually blue-green in color. Most forms found in saltwater are other colors, ranging from blackish green to blue-green, from orange-yellow to reddish-brown, and often appear deep purple to fully black in color. Starting out as small patches, it spreads out from there as a mat of sheeting covering.

What Makes Slime Algae Grow and Solutions For Eliminating This Problem

We suggest that you don't try to put all of these solutions into action at one time, because if you do, when the problem subsides you'll never really know where the problem was coming from and which solution worked to fix it. Start with one solution and see what results you get, and if that one doesn't work, try another one, and so on, until the problem is resolved. Now, in order for all forms of algae to grow, they require only two things; light and nutrients.

  • Lighting: The use of improper bulbs, lack of maintenance, and extended lighting hours are contributors that can lead to all sorts of algae problems. While these organisms do well in the 665 to 680 nanometer (nm) wavelength range, they are quite active bewteen the 560 and 620 nm range as well.
    • Solutions: Only use bulbs that are designed for aquarium use, run the lights 8 to 9 hours a day, and following the basic wattage rule of thumb, try different types of bulbs to increase the intensity and the spectral qualities of the light in the aquarium, particularly when it comes to any type of full-spectrum or color enhancing tubes being used.
  • Nutrients: Phosphates (PO 4 ), DOCs (Dissolved Organic Compounds), and nitrates (NO 3 ) are primary nutrient food sources for red and other slime algae.
    • Phosphates (PO 4 ) are commonly introduced into aquariums by means of using unfiltered fresh tap water, and through many aquarium products that may contain higher than normal concentrations of this element, such as sea salt mixes, activated carbon, KH buffers, foods, and many other sources. Also, for established reef tanks the long-term use of kalkwasser precipitates phosphates out of the water, and these phosphate based compounds can settle on and in the live rock and substrate.

Sep 20, 2009

What is carrageenan?

Lots of foods can contain some pretty weird-sounding stuff. That's because processed foods have some amazing things they have to do. For example, a cookie might get made in Texas, trucked across the country in the middle of the summer, sit in a warehouse for a couple of weeks before it is sold and then ride home in the trunk of your car. And when you open the package, you expect the cookie to look perfect. Not an easy thing to accomplish, it turns out.

seaweed close shot
Carrageenan is a seaweed extract common in the Atlantic Ocean near Britain, Continental Europe and North America.

Things like liquids and cheese can be even more problematic, because their natural inclination is to separate, foam, melt, precipitate, et cetera, especially after they bounce down the road for a thousand miles.

That's why many foods contain chemicals known as gums. Two gums that are pretty familiar are gelatin and corn starch. If you look at processed food, you see all sorts of other gums like carrageenan, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, locust bean gum, agar, and so on. Food scientists (not cooks -- food scientists make processed foods) use these substances for four main reasons:

  1. They thicken things: Ice cream, marshmallow fluff, pancake syrup, etc., all benefit from thickening.
  2. They emulsify things: They help liquids to stay mixed together without separating.
  3. They change the texture: Generally, a gum will make something thicker or chewier.
  4. They stabilize crystals: A gum might help prevent sugar or ice from crystallizing.
These are all handy capabilities when making food products that have to look good for several months after trucking them across the country. The reason why a normal cook usually does not need to use things like carrageenan or xanthan gum is because the food a normal cook makes gets eaten quickly and is not mistreated. A cook can also use less expensive things like gelatin, flour or eggs because the time span between cooking and consumption is so short.

Carrageenan, by the way, is a seaweed extract. This particular type of seaweed is common in the Atlantic Ocean near Britain, Continental Europe and North America. You boil the seaweed to extract the carrageenan. In that sense, carrageenan is completely "natural" -- it's not much different from tomato paste in its creation.

Sep 18, 2009

Seaweed comes Ashore

Seaweed is good for the garden. Mixed in the soil, it slowly releases nutrients that plants need, while improving soil texture. Since it is particularly rich in micro-nutrients such as iron, copper, zinc, boron and manganese, seaweed offers a natural remedy for soil with a micro-nutrient deficiency. Seaweed also contains large quantities of hormones that stimulate plant growth. Plants in seaweed amended soil grow faster and larger than plants in soil with a comparable amount of conventional fertilizer.A traditional soil amendment in coastal gardens, seaweed is now formulated in extracts and granular products that you can find on garden center shelves and in catalogs of garden suppliers (see sources on p. 32). Fresh seaweed and dried granular seaweed must break down in the soil to release their nutrients and hormones. A foliar spray of seaweed extract and water makes the nutrients and hormones available to plants faster. Research has shown that plant health can improve within days after the spray is applied. Foliar seaweed sprays rapidly correct nutrient deficiencies, improve fruit set and help a plant endure environmental stress, including drought and frost.

Where it started

Coastal gardeners have long collected seaweed and composted or used it fresh as mulch in their gardens. In the British Isles, 19th century gardeners grew potatoes of superior flavor in layers of sand and seaweed on bedrock. Traditionally, seaweed is raked from the sea by hand, piled into skiffs and brought to shore. It is time-consuming, heavy work. A small boatload of fresh seaweed weighs 4,000 lb. to 5,000 lb. Not surprisingly, the discovery of synthetic fertilizer sin this century eclipsed labor-intensive and slow-acting organic amendments, seaweed among them. Seaweed's emergence as a tonic for plants began with British experiments with seaweed as a replacement for hemp during World War II. Scientist learned that as a rope substitute, seaweed was hopeless because it dissolved in water. This discovery, however, led to a process for liquidating and concentrating seaweed, making it possible to bottle and to transport economically it's minerals and hormones. Drying seaweed over low heat led to the production of seaweed meal, a source of minerals and vitamins for livestock feed, and a concentrate soil amendment. Today, gardeners can readily find seaweed extract and seaweed meal.

The primal supermarket

Seaweed is a rootless plant in the Fucus family that floats freely or clings to rocks by holdfasts (root-like or disc-shaped plant parts that attach seaweed to rocks but don't absorb nutrients). Seaweed photosynthesizes the sunlight that reaches it through shallow water and it absorbs nutrients from seawater through its leaves. Since the ocean receives runoff from the entire earth, it contains all known minerals, trace elements and vitamins. This primal supermarket supplies a more complete diet for sea plants that any plot of rich soil or fertilizer provides for land plants. Seaweed contains 60 or more minerals and several plant hormones. It is not, however, a complete fertilizer. It has a fair amount of nitrogen and potash, but very little phosphorus, a major plant nutrient. Only a few seaweeds are harvested commercially. Norwegian kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum) a brown algae, is the seaweed most used in gardening. Norwegian kelp is gathered off the coast of England, Ireland and Norway and both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America where it is called rockweed. Gulfweed (Sargassum) a floating sea plant, is harvested off the coast of North Carolina. Giant kelp (Macrocystis) is collected in the Pacific Northwest.

How seaweed enhances plant growth

Seaweed is constantly worn down by tides and eaten by fish, so it must grow rapidly to survive. Studies at the University of California showed that a frond of seaweed can grow a foot a day, given optimal conditions. The same growth hormones that prompt such rapid growth in seaweed, when applied to plants as a foliar spray, can increase the speed of cell division and elongation in those plants. The hormones also increase root growth when applied to the soil as meal, or when a seaweed extract is used as a root dip.In recent turf test at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, plots sprayed with seaweed extract had 67% to 175% more roots that untreated plots. Plots treated in fall showed a 38% increase in spring growth over untreated plots and showed 52% more roots.In test at South Carolina's Clemson University, seeds soaked in liquid sea weed extract showed rapid germination and the resulting seedlings and increased root mass and stronger plant growth that seedlings from untreated seeds. They also had a higher survival rate. Soaking plant roots in seaweed extract reduces transplant shock and speeds root growth. Seaweed foliar sprays promote faster, stronger stem and leaf growth and earlier blossoming and fruit set when sprayed on leaves and flowerbeds.

Seaweed as fertilizer

Seaweed improves soil fertility in several ways. Seaweed's nutrients and hormones are directly available to plants. Mannitol, a compound found in seaweed, enables plants to better absorb nutrients from the soil. The rapid breakdown of carbohydrates in seaweed stimulates beneficial soil bacteria that fix nitrogen and make it available to plant roots. These activities reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, and when seaweed is used with them, enhance their effects.Robert Kourik, an organic gardening specialist, suggest using 1 lb. of seaweed meal per 100-sq. ft. of soil or 1/4 tablespoon of liquid concentrate to 1 gal. of water for a foliar spray in intensive vegetable gardens. No matter what formulation is used -- fresh, dried or liquid - don't exceed the recommended quantities because excessive amounts of seaweed can stunt plant growth rather than encourage it.

Seaweed as pest control

Some scientists believe that seaweed has developed antitoxins to fend off bacteria and viruses in the ocean. In the gardens, these antitoxins interrupt the reproductive cycles of some insects and appear to repel others. Seaweed also reduces fungi when applied to plants or soil. In test at the University of Maryland, seaweed meal reduced soil nematodes in turf grass plots. Clemson University studies showed fewer aphids and flea beetles on foliar threatened plants, and other studies showed resistance to spider mites and scab. In Clemson studies, fruits and vegetables treated with seaweed didn't grow mold and thus had a longer shelf life.

Using seaweed

You can apply seaweed as mulch or as a soil additive, or incorporate it in a compost pile (its ability to activate soil bacteria makes seaweed an excellent compost starter). But the preferred method of application is as a foliar feed. For a head start on the growing season, you might want to presoak seeds in diluted seaweed extract for 20 minutes before planting. Then water the seedlings regularly with the same solution until strong growth appears. Apply seaweed meal to the soil as soon as the ground can be worked in spring because the meal needs time to break down. Work the meal in to perennial beds when the plants break dormancy.Apply foliar sprays once or twice a month during the growing season. Spraying in late fall supplies phosphorus and zinc to plant roots and increases the frost tolerance of grass, vegetables, and perennials. A late season foliar treatment can yield a longer harvest of vegetables.A balanced organic fertilizer can be created by mixing fresh seaweed or seaweed meal with manure or fishmeal, both of which supply sufficient phosphorus. Seaweed is also a good soil conditioner and can add as much humus to the soil as manure can.

Sep 17, 2009

Brunei, Aquaculture gold a plenty in Brunei seas

There’s gold awaiting to be harvested from Brunei's seas and shores; gold that can never run out unlike oil that faces depletion in the near future.

The gold is seaweeds, shellfishes and fish from cage rearing.

Seaweeds, for instance, if cared and managed properly, will contribute half a billion dollars of income annually for Brunei. And the capital and labor needed to attain such wealth is peanuts compared to setting up an oil rig.

Why? Because Brunei, in the words of a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture (UNFAO) Corporate Document Repository titled South China Sea Fisheries Development and Coordinating Programme, is perfect for aquaculture.

Aquaculture in Southeast Asia is ideal in places like southern Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei where there are coastal intertidal swamps, mud flats of rapidly extending coasts, embayments as well as the ponds and reef flats, the report said.

Such topographical and geographical advantages are given tooth by the fact that Brunei is typhoon-free, typhoon being the most destructive enemy of sea farming.

The Programme has been carried out in cooperation with Director-General of Fisheries of Malaysia and the Sabah Fisheries Department by the Marine Colloids, Inc, of Rockland, Maine, in the United States. It covered and studied in detail Malaysia, Brunei, southern Philippines and southern Bali and southwestern Sulawesi of Indonesia.

Seaweeds are a multi-billion dollar industry because they are used as medicine, food, agars, colloids, gels and gums for industries; and lately as synthetic material for spaceships in outer galactic exploration.

The most important but highly expensive seaweed is carrageenan, which reaches US$10 ($15) per pound.

There is no specific farm size recommended in seaweed production, thus it allows for a range of commitment levels. Experience shows that households decide on their own level of farming activity depending on cash needs and other obligations and commitments.

For income projection purposes, the standard off-bottom farm module is that of 50 square metres which requires a labour input of about 2 hours per week. Ideally, this allows seven harvests a year yielding 600kg or 1,320 pounds. At US$10 a pound, a Bruneian fisherman can attain a gross income of US$13,200. A 200 square metre area manageable by a family can earn a gross of US$52,800 or B$80,000.

Sargassum, a brown seaweed, is highly significant as source of iodine. Iodine is needed by the development of the thyroid hormones and is partly responsible for human intelligence..

The Graciliaria seaweed, bountiful in Brunei, is an important source of agar. It is as expensive as sargassum and carrageenan.

Brunei's Bay is a potential mega seaweed farm site. With an area of about 250,000, hectares, much of which are vital mangroves, it can be utilised for seaweed culture. The mudflats and sandflats at the mouths of the major estuaries provide outstanding conditions

The freshwater flowing into the bay via a labyrinth of interconnecting channels and waterways will contribute to the needed aquacultural requirements for the seaweed industry . The major rivers entering the Brunei Estuary like Limbang, Temburong, Bangau and Trusan can protect the seafarms from silt accumulation and pollution.

In a recent cluster meeting on small and medium enterprise development by the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) aquaculture culture has been identified as a potential export industry for the said countries. This comes after the German GTZ completed a study on Seaweed Industry Project: Value Chain on seaweeds followed by a BIMP-EAGA Seaweeds Conference in Tawau, Malaysia on the need to identify areas of cooperation in the seaweeds cluster (production, possessing and trading/marketing).

According to FAO, fisheries as part of the national development sector in Brunei is given high priority but this industry is young and its development is overshadowed by extensive development of the oil resources. Local production fluctuated from year to year, estimated at 4,000 metric tonnes to 5,000 metric tonnes a year.

Fish consumption is gradually rising, having reached 5,600 metric tonnes in 1985. It includes finfish, crustaceans and molluscs. Additional imports of processed fishery commodities (frozen, canned, processed, etc.) of fluctuating amount is also being made each year to complete total consumption needs. These commodities amount to a consumption of 8, 200 metric tonnes in 1985. With a growth rate of 3.3 per cent annually, it is expected that fish consumption will increase steadily.

To reach self-sufficiency in fish and and earn from the the billion dollar aquaculture industry in the Asean region, FAO contended that Brunei authorities have to hasten manpower training in the industry. Under BIMP-EAGA , the Philippines has agreed to assist in training fishermen to adequately carry out the fish production programme. The state should likewise conduct positive fisheries programmes that offer incentives to the fishery sector, FAO added.

There are about 3,000 to 4,000 full-time fishermen in Brunei. The reason for the low number of fishermen is that their earning power is much lower than those in government jobs or those involved in the oil industry work force.

Hence, many of those who were fishermen and their children tend to flock to the urban areas for the desired government or oil company jobs.

FAO is urging Brunei inland fishermen to go into fresh-water pond culture.

The government has a demonstration and training station for this aspect. In the case of the small-scale full-time or part-time coastal fisherman, they can go into seafarming.

Cage culture of valuable species of marine finfish such as groupers, seabass and snappers which have already established local market can greatly bolster fishermens income. Open water culture of molluscs including mussels and oysters is also another possible venture.

A private commercial venture on mussel which was started only in 1985 has indicated technical feasibility of this aquaculture activity.

Brunei's plan outlined under the BIMP-EAGA named fisheries, Halal meat production, horticulture, biopharmaceuticals, financial, transport and construction services, eco and cultural tourism as the sectors it is developing to be globally competitive.

As oil may run out one day and the state is pushing for increased diversification in several industries, aquaculture provides an opportunity for Brunei to harvest vast richness from its sea and inland waters.

Sep 16, 2009

Alaria esculenta (Linnaeus) Greville

Description: Plants with olive or yellow-brown fronds to 4 m long and 25 cm wide. Attached by a root-like holdfast at the base from which a narrow flexible stipe arises which continues into the leafy part of the plant as a distinct mid-rib. The reproductive structures, apparent as dark-brown areas, are confined to unbranched leafy appendages borne on the stripe, usually in two rows.

Habitat: Generally growing on rock in very exposed places, often forming a band at low water and in the shallow subtidal, but also occurring in tidal pools in the lower shore.

Distinguishing features: This is the only kelp-like plant in Ireland and Britain with a distinct midrib and is the only one with sporangia borne at the base of the frond in special leaflets called sporophylls.

Seaweed’s potential experimented on Could mean big business for Bicol region

THE BUREAU of Agricultural Research (BAR) has developed 20 products from processed seaweeds, opening up a new potential for the fisheries commodity in the Bicol region.

Some of the products that could open a new market for seaweed farmers include seaweed candies, seaweed noodles, seaweed chips, nata de seaweeds, seaweed jam, seaweed chocolate, seaweed longanisa, and macaroons with seaweed.

"We developed and created new products which are not only affordable but are also nutritious," said Aida S. Andayog, manager of the Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center.

New products that will likely open a new market for seaweed farmers include seaweed candies, seaweed noodles, pickled seaweeds, seaweed chips, nata de seaweeds, seaweed tart, seaweed jam, seaweed chocolate bar, seaweed longanisa, macaroons with seaweed, fish lumpia with seaweed, seaweed morcon, seaweed marmalade, seaweed kropek and seaweed juice.

"These products have competitive advantage in the market considering the uniqueness, taste, and nutritional value," Ms. Andayog said.

"Seaweeds are a low-calorie food, with a high concentration of minerals, vitamins, proteins and digestible carbohydrates, and some lipids," she added.

Seaweeds, which are rich in iodine, iron, magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorous, is used here and abroad as an ingredient in human and animal food, cosmetics, fertilizers, medicines and also in wastewater treatment.

In 2003, an on-farm research and a seaweed nursery were put up by the agency through funds from a community-based participatory action research project.

The facility became a model seaweed production farm for the coastal municipalities of Sorsogon and eventually, in the whole region, the BAR said.

The project, dubbed the "Product Development/Improvement and Commercialization of Seaweeds in Bicol Region," was targeted to create a comprehensive development and commercialization of seaweeds and processed seaweed products in the region and to put up village-level seaweed production and processing enterprises.

Trainings and seminars were held to educate seaweed farmers on the principles of good manufacturing practices and sanitation standard operating procedures required for export products.

Furthermore, products underwent sensory evaluation to assess the product appearance, odor, flavor and textures and its nutritional value through nutritional evaluation, the BAR said.

The project is funded by the BAR under its National Technology Commercialization Program that aims to promote agribusiness in the country and create jobs.

Early this month, the BAR said it was developing pigeon pea coffee as a healthy alternative drink. Products also being developed from pigeon pea include organic vinegar, basi wine, handmade paper, vermi-compost, syrup, cookies and other flat bread baked from pigeon pea flour.

Sep 15, 2009

Seaweed Plantation in Semporna, Sabah

Semporna is located near the world's largest seaweed producing areas, a vast ocean area include that of Southern Philippines and Northern Sulawesi of Indonesia. The ocean provides eatable seaweed, fish abundant for us to eat. High quality cultivated seaweeds are grown in clear blue sea at Sipadan island off Semporna Town. Seaweed culture in Semporna started in the late 1970s. A priority of the Department of Fisheries Sabah as a supplementary income-generating activity among the fishing communities in Semporna.

A demonstration farm was set up on Sebangkat reef top in 1980. Today many of fishermen involved in seaweed farming of Euchema cottonii because it provides a higher income compared to fishing. Culture plots are found mostly on the extensive 'reef top platform' to the north of Sebangkat and Selakan.

Seaweed Farming is an alternative livelihood for the fisherman in Semporna. Fishing communities now can earn extra income by growing seaweed for sale to processing plants in Sabah. In the wet markets of Semporna one can find two slimy type of seaweeds on sale, one type is yellowish, the other is dark green seaweed on stalks with round buds. Both are called by the local seaweed.

Carrageenan extracted from the seaweed is used as a stabilizer in food and cosmetics. Carrageenan is extracted from seaweed used as a Stabilizer in food and cosmetics. Natural seaweed are processed into snacks such as seaweed crackers. Among all natural health foods, seaweed contains the highest amount of protein without any cholesterol. Among all natural health foods, seaweed contains the highest amount of protein without any cholesterol. It is suitable for all ages. High protein vegetable seaweed are called "vegetable for longevity" which contains high contents of protein, iodine, phosphorus, calcium, iron and vitamins. Seaweeds are delicious, high in iron, calcium and vitamin A. Seaweed Prawn Dumpling is now a new favorite among the West Malaysian visitors. You can find this special menu in Semporna.

Department of Fisheries provided manual on seaweed farming. Department of Fisheries provided manually on seaweed farming. This manual, in Bahasa Malaysia and Bajau, made easy the farming method by illustration in cartoon drawings and step by step instructions. This manual, in Bahasa Malaysia and Bajau, made easy by the farming method illustration in cartoon drawings and step by step instructions.
Under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP), Sabah is to produce 250,000 metric tones of seaweed by the year 2010. Under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP), Sabah is to produce 250.000 metric tones of seaweed by the year 2010.

The seaweed culture project in Semporna has become an income generator for the locals and is helping to enhance Semporna district's economy as the leading seaweed producer in Sabah. In this district the seaweed culture project has already been implemented in Pulau Selakan, Kerindingan, Bum-Bum, Sebangkat, Sibuan, Pababag and Omadal. In this district the seaweed culture project has already been implemented in Western Selakan, Kerindingan, Bum-Bum, Sebangkat, Sibuan, Pababag and Omadal.

A trip to the nearby seaweed farms can be arranged by tour-operators of Semporna.

Sep 14, 2009

URI student thinks seaweed might be the next big thing in aquaculture

University of Rhode Island senior Ariel Tobin decided to study fisheries and aquaculture because she loves sport fishing, she enjoys being on the water, and she knows it’s a field that will keep her attention. This summer she carried this enthusiasm into a research project to assess whether seaweed could become the next big food crop grown in the Ocean State.

“My focus has been on testing how to grow an edible seaweed called gracilaria in our salt ponds,” said Tobin, who was born in Key West, Fla., but grew up in Middletown. “It’s got a nice crispy, crunchy texture, a mild briny flavor, and its texture improves with cooking.”

Tobin collaborated on the project with Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Farms, who raises oysters in a seven-acre aquaculture lease in Potter Pond in South Kingstown. His goal is to conduct the seaweed culture alongside his oyster farm to create an integrated aquaculture setting. Raso also owns a raw bar and restaurant, and he believes there is a market for gracilaria.

“Seaweed is essentially a sea vegetable, and it’s already popular in Asian markets,” Tobin said. “Marketing it here in New England might be a challenge, but it’s got great potential.”

To assess the viability of growing the species in a controlled aquaculture environment, Tobin conducted a variety of detailed tests to determine under what conditions it grows best. She first set up an experiment to learn in what depth water the seaweed grows fastest, then she studied the impact of tides and currents on growth rates.

She even followed up on a study in Canada that concluded that the ropes on which the seaweed is grown should be covered in vegetable shortening to reduce the likelihood that other organisms would attach to the ropes.

“That one didn’t turn out so well,” she said. “The vegetable shortening stopped the lines from being fouled by other seaweeds or tunicates, but it also inhibited the growth of the gracilaria we were trying to grow.”

On a typical day this summer, Tobin helped Raso monitor his oyster farm operations – raising oysters that start out the size of a grain of sand until they are ready to harvest at about three inches across – while also keeping track of her seaweed experiments. In addition, she conducted public tours of the facility.

“I spent a lot of time learning about the aquaculture operation, understanding the process involved in shellfish aquaculture, and improving my skills,” she said. “It was a great hands-on experience that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.”

With the help of mentors Carol Thornber at URI and Charles Yarish at the University of Connecticut, Tobin will spend the fall evaluating the data she collected and proceed to develop seaweed culture lines on a commercial scale. “I’m anxious to see a final product and for my research to come to fruition,” she said, “but I know that you cannot rush science.”

Tobin’s research was funded by Rhode Island Sea Grant and conducted through the URI Coastal Fellows Program, a unique initiative designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing current environmental problems. Now in its 14th year, it is based at URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences. Students are paired with a mentor and research staff to help them gain skills relevant to their academic major and future occupations.

When she completes her URI degree next May, Tobin looks forward to continuing her education and earning a graduate degree. “I’m in no rush to get out of school,” she said, “though I’m not sure where I will go. I might want to explore programs in other parts of the country.”

Then she hopes to work for the National Marine Fisheries Service as a regulatory observer aboard commercial fishing vessels and research ships. She worked on a URI research trawler in 2008, and she earned her SCUBA and boating certifications through her URI coursework, so she’ll be ready to go to sea when the time comes.

“My ultimate goal is to obtain a job where I’ll get to be out on the water, working to make a difference and improve our oceans,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing what you love.”

Sep 13, 2009

Benefits of seaweeds

Seaweeds or sea vegetables, such as nori, kombu, hijiki, arame and others, have become very important in the modern diet for two reasons:

  1. They are rich in minerals whereas regular vegetables, because of modern, chemicalised farming techniques, nowadays tend to be very lacking in minerals. In fact, seaweeds are considered among the most nutritious plants on earth.

  2. Sea vegetables protect against – and counter the effects of – radiation. In our modern lifestyle, we are constantly exposed to all types of low level radiation, from computer monitors, mobile phones, flying in aeroplanes etc, including, of course, radiation used in medical diagnostics such as x-rays and CAT scans.
Many people think of seaweeds as "Japanese food". Well, the good thing about the growing popularity of Japanese – and Korean – cuisine is that more people are eating seaweeds these days.

However, seaweeds have traditionally been consumed by people throughout the world, not just by the Japanese or Koreans but also by the Filipinos, Indonesians as well as by Western cultures like the Irish and Scandinavians.

And it is not just the people living close to the sea who consume seaweeds.

Dr Weston Price, a dentist known for his studies on the diet and health of traditional societies during the early part of the 20th century, found that even people living in the Andes carried a small bag of seaweed and ate a small amount of it everyday. These high mountain dwellers obtained seaweed by trading with coastal Indians and would not do without it.

Seaweeds are especially rich in calcium and iodine.

In fact, nutritionists and dietitians who say that milk is the “best" source of calcium are saying this out of ignorance about seaweeds. Varieties such as hijiki contain up to 14 times as much calcium as milk. Other types may contain at least seven times more calcium than milk.

Iodine – which is needed for thyroid function and which, in turn, affects body metabolism – is another important mineral found in sea vegetables. As an aside, the need for iodine is a compelling reason for using sea salt in cooking, instead of regular refined salt which has all the iodine and other minerals removed.

And sea salt fortified with iodine is not the answer. The quality of iodine used in fortification is not the same and you still miss out on other important minerals.

Seaweeds can contain up to 20,000 per cent more iodine compared with land vegetables.

Seaweeds also supply:

  • chromium – an essential mineral for glucose utilization and the control of diabetes
  • zinc – for men's sexual health as well as healthy skin
  • iron – for blood
  • potassium – for heart health
  • copper, sulphur, silver, tin, zirconium, phosphorous, and silicon, magnesium, manganese, boron, bromides and lots of other trace minerals necessary for health.

Some nutritionists / dieticians have expressed concern about the content of sodium in sea vegetables.

Some years back, a friend of mine wrote to the press recommending seaweeds instead of milk as an excellent source of calcium, and a nutritionist warned that sea vegetables might lead to high blood pressure as they are high in sodium.

Such a warning is not supported by any scientific evidence – as there have never been any scientific studies that show that eating seaweeds causes high blood pressure.

If anything, population studies indicate that people who eat sea vegetables regularly tend to enjoy excellent health. The Hawaiians, for example, have low rates of heart disease even though they tend to be stocky and highly overweight. They attribute this to their regular consumption of seaweeds.

Other benefits of seaweeds

Seaweeds are also rich in antioxidants that protect us from degenerative diseases such cancer as well as slow down the aging process.

Plus, they are noted for their ability to bind with toxic heavy metals and radioactive pollutants – such as mercury, lead, cadmium and radioactive strontium, which is in fact one of the most hazardous pollutants present in the world today due to nuclear power plants, testing of nuclear weapons, etc.

Studies have shown that seaweeds can remove up to 90 percent of radioactive strontium 90 from the intestinal tract. And sodium alginates found in sea vegetables actually chelate the remaining amount out of the bone structure.

But because sea vegetables bind with toxic pollutants, it is important to obtain them from clean waters.

Most commercially available seaweed are grown or harvested from seabeds far from polluted areas. Do not collect your own seaweeds near a city or in a polluted environment.

An Ancient Korean Health Food

Seaweed soup, called Mi-Yuk Gook in Korean, has been a staple in the Korean diet for much of Korea's 5000 year history.

For Koreans living all over the world, seaweed soup is a must for all pregnant women and students.

Seaweed is amazingly effective at stimulating healthy milk production in nursing moms. Any mom who wants to ensure healthy breast milk production can virtually guarantee it by eating seaweed soup during pregnancy and the nursing period.

Seaweed is also an excellent blood cleanser and is believed to support optimal brain function, making it a staple for Korean students, especially the night before an important exam.

In the spring of 2005, North Korea began producing candies made out of seaweed to encourage the country's children to grow tall, strong, and smart. These popular candies are made out of seaweed, beans, carrots, and sesame seeds.

Easy seaweed soup

Seaweed soup is served at most Korean meals because it is tasty and so easy to make. Especially after a lesson from my mother-in-law. Here is the way to have seaweed soup in under thirty minutes:

Simple Seaweed Soup

1/4 cup dried seaweed

5 cups water

2+ cloves garlic

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Some salt, black pepper is optional

1/4 cup clams or oysters (optional, frozen is okay)

1 tablespoon tuna extract (optional)

Measure out seaweed into a small bowl and add just enough water to soak. Cut garlic into disks. Add sesame oil to pot, grill the garlic lightly. Then stir the wet seaweed and optional clams/oysters in with the oil and garlic for about 2 minutes. Pour in water, stir in soy sauce and salt to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cook it in a stainless steel storage container so it can go into the fridge afterwards. Seaweed soup is said to be good for a woman’s reproductive system plus it’s a good source of iodine for everyone else ~ and no one has confirmed whether salt in Korea is iodized.

Is seaweed a type of plant???

The jury is out on seaweeds; some people probably hear the word and think about sushi, some think about beautiful underwater seaweed forests floating up toward the sun, gently swaying with the currents, and some think about seaweed entangling rudders or mucking up beaches.

Another samples from the wrack line; that line of seaweed (wrack is another word for seaweed) deposited high up on the beach by the latest high tide. More often than not students are amazed by the sheer number and diversity of seaweeds present in the wrack line. I certainly am.

The wrack line isn't just one amorphous mass of rotting kelp, there are red and green and brown seaweeds with evocative names like sea lettuce, Irish moss, knotted wrack, rockweed, bladder wrack, sea colander, horsetail kelp, brown pom-pom, maiden's hair, dead man's fingers; the list is endless.

While there are some plants that grow in the ocean, the majority of the big ocean photosynthesizers are the seaweeds (or macroalgae), which are not plants at all but are currently housed in the kingdom Protista. This is the kingdom that contains all those single-celled organisms that we glimpsed under microscopes in pond water samples back in elementary school.

Because seaweeds live in the ocean, surrounded by water, they need and have none of the structures that plants use to obtain water and nutrients from the soil. Seaweeds lack the vascular system and roots of a plant; they can absorb the water and nutrients they need directly from the ocean surrounding them. Their blades (leaf-like structures) are not technically leaves since they lack veins.

Seaweeds have a spectacular range of form, adapted to the various conditions in which they live. Short and sturdy seaweeds able to take the pounding of waves attach to rocky shorelines with their root-like holdfasts; giant kelp form offshore forests; smaller, more delicate seaweeds grow on larger ones; and the coralline algae, a red algae that contains calcium carbonate, join with the corals to build reefs.

All of these seaweeds can be found in the wrack line, especially after a storm has torn them loose. As long as seaweed can float it will stay alive, but deposited on a beach above the tide line seaweed will start to die, and decay, which can be a problem for beach-goers.

However, the sometimes-smelly wrack line provides an irresistible array of delicacies for foraging shore birds, a smorgasbord of decaying bits of seaweed, numerous beach fleas and sand hoppers that eat the seaweed, small crabs and other crustaceans that were stranded with the wrack.

Species of seaweed

Seaweeds are also a kind of sea plants inside the seas. Seaweeds are set up caught towards rocks, sand, dead plants and algae of undersea, or is even found on the sea and ocean surfaces. Seaweeds are found large or even very tiny. They are a sort of algae. Seaweed is divided into 3 types. Those can be divided into red seaweeds, brown seaweed, and green seaweed.

The majority of seaweeds are red algae. Red algae seaweed are flexible. They revolve into many colors such as violet, red, brown, green, or even yellow color. Algae are furthermore developed within pools. A category of red seaweed algae is called "The Turkish Towel". It is known as the Turkish towel since the blades seem to resemble a towel. It always seems wet. Its shade is cherry or violet having sharp blades each one of them is capable of close to 1.30metres.

Merely 11% of green seaweed is commencing of sea waters; mostly living in the clean water habitation. Due to chlorophyll it has got its green color. A type of green algae seaweed is famous as Sea lettuce; also called as Ulva. This is palatable. Mainly used in soup and salad!

Brown seaweeds as well have chlorophyll responsible for green color. Through this color, it can range from obvious golden olive towards the darkest brown color lasting for ever! A breed of brown seaweed called as Alaria which is edible by us "the humans". Alaria is divided into 14 types.


Have you ever given any thought to seaweed?

For the majority of people seaweed conjures up an image of a smelly, green or brown, unpalatable tough weed washed up on a shoreline somewhere. Alternatively, it could be that dried stuff you get in sushi bars or Japanese and Chinese restaurants. Very few people realise the health benefits of seaweed and just how versatile it really is.

Described as "perfectly balanced natural food" certain seaweeds, like certain land plants have been used for centuries by different cultures for medicinal and nutritional purposes, fertilisers and even to awaken sexual desire.

Seaweed has been confirmed as one of Nature's "all- round pharmaceutical miracles" with claims that it can accomplish everything from warding off and treating several types of cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, thin the blood, prevent ulcers, kill bacteria and even cure constipation.

It's not just the Japanese who have appreciated the health benefits from daily consumption of seaweed either as there are reports of people living high in the Andes consuming it on a regular basis. Both cultures are renowned for their hardiness but just why is this natural vitamin supplement so good for us? The answer is the ocean.

For millions of years minerals and nutrients have been draining from the land into the sea and it is more or less a constant chemical medium.

The ocean contains the same minerals and trace elements as human blood and these are integrated into the living tissue of seaweed. As the seaweed is organic (easily broken down) and the natural vitamins, foundation minerals and vital nutrients are in such an assimilable form, this wonderful sea vegetable is of huge nutritional benefit and really is a natural whole food vitamin supplement.

For example, it has been estimated that certain seaweeds are up to 30 times higher in minerals than land food, which is affected by depleted nutrient levels in our soils.

Many people are understandably concerned about consuming produce from the oceans these days because of media reports of pollution, but this issue is widely misunderstood. Generally the ocean is a far less polluted growing medium than land soil especially farm soil because of the widespread use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers as well as airborne industrial pollutants.

Some seaweeds, particularly certain varieties of wrack have been the subject of scientific study over many years in connection with specific medical conditions where they have been found not only to have therapeutic value, but are a powerful nutritional component in a wide range of treatments.

For several years seaweed has been used as part of the protocol for detoxification in mercury amalgam extraction and may prove helpful where there is evidence of mineral imbalance and thyroid disorders.

The thyroid gland directly affects metabolism and regulates many other bodily functions. It requires iodine to operate smoothly and seaweed is a rich source.

In ancient Egypt seaweed was used as a treatment for patients with breast cancer but the modern use of chemo and radiation therapy makes the health benefit of seaweed far more evident because it provides a natural detox.

Seaweed has no significant fat and contains a high level of the rare antioxidant, selenium, making it exceptional value in candida treatment.

Cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease are all familiar medical conditions in our modern society and a link has often been made to high salt intake. Very small amounts of whole salt, ideally in the form of seaweed have been shown to be an antidote to excess sodium consumption.

Also, seaweed can prove beneficial for bronchitis and other respiratory infections as it is a natural multivitamin containing soothing, mucilaginous gels which specifically rejuvinate the lungs and gastrointestinal tract.

Another problem seaweed can assist with is helping the body to maintain the acid/alkaline balance in blood, lymph and cells. Modern diet tends to favour carbohydrates, protein and fats, which can all become surplus acid deposits if our bodies do not have the means to fully metabolise them. Often this produces food allergy and intolerances, with acid build up in the system which is a cause of heartburn, indigestion, and ulcers. Seaweed can neutralise these acids so they can be safely eliminated and help restore balance.

Seaweed has been described as "the most nutritious form of vegetation on this planet", so the next time you spot some on the sea shore remember it is far more than a smelly weed!