A nature-based solution for biodiversity restoration and poverty alleviation in a time of accelerating global climate change (Innovative Seaweed Aquaculture project)

Country: Malaysia

Partners: UK: Natural History Museum, Scottish Association for Marine Science; Malaysia: University of Malaya, Jabatan Perikanan Sabah Fisheries Department

Summary: Seaweeds form some of the most productive marine ecosystems, supporting a greater diversity of species than almost any other marine habitat and providing a wide range of ecosystem services critical to the well-being of the oceans. Despite the massive importance of seaweeds, and their vital role in the global food supply chain, there has been very little effort to protect them. Their conservation remains patchy or non-existent globally. Increasing demand and temperatures mean that seaweed communities are predicted to lose up to 71% of their current distribution under certain climate change scenarios by 2100. The Innovative Seaweed Aquaculture project seeks to address this, by developing new temperature resilient seaweed stocks for farming and by outlining protection measures for seaweed globally. Seaweed cultivation offers a potential nature-based carbon neutral climate resilient solution to restore seaweed forests globally and alleviate poverty, particularly in the Global South. The project is being delivered via two main workstreams: i) the sustainable cultivation of novel red seaweed eucheumatoid strains collected locally from the wild; and ii) the conservation and management of wild seaweeds and cultivars around the world.