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.