Seaweed Farming

Our boat to Sibuyan. We needed a backhoe to unload all of our supplies.
Our boat to Sibuyan. We needed a backhoe to unload all of our supplies.

This past weekend, I traveled to Sibuyan Island, considered “the Galapagos of the Philippines” for its endemic terrestrial diversity. While I hope to return in the summertime to hike the infamous Mt. Guiting Guiting (6,752ft), the objective of this trip was distributing materials for seaweed farming to local fishermen as an alternative livelihood project. These materials are provided for free to the fisherfolk families as compensation for damages to the fishing industry in response to Typhoon Yolanda and also as a means to reduce pressure on declining fishing populations.

Rope, twine and floatation rings were distributed to fisherfolk after a training session on seaweed farming methods. Here is the basic construction of the farm: a net system that has seaweed seedlings tied in rows, and grows in the ocean just off shore.

In 2009, seaweeds were the 3rd largest fisheries export from the Philippines after tuna and shrimp.* The seaweeds grown are often shipped to France, Denmark, Japan, USA or UK after processing in the Philippines. Although raw seaweeds are used for consumption, died seaweeds are often processed for carrageenan, commonly known as seaweed flour, or kelp powder and in a huge variety of products.

What everyday goods are made from seaweed components? Toothpaste, shampoos, ice cream, yogurts, pill capsules, paints and much more! Eucheuma seaweed is a commonly farmed red seaweed, however many different types of seaweeds can be farmed. Check out the link below for more info.

*http://region5.bfar.da.gov.ph/PDF/Seaweed.pdf

Ma'am Rita teaching a fisherman how to attach seaweed seedlings to the rope net.
Ma’am Rita teaching a fisherman how to attach seaweed seedlings to the rope net.
Briefing the fishermen on farming practices before dispersing materials. Notice the stacks of materials on the right ready for dispersal.
Briefing the fishermen on farming practices before dispersing materials. Notice the stacks of materials on the right ready for dispersal.
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4 thoughts on “Seaweed Farming”

  1. The team of about 10 Filipinos we had unloading our boat was extremely efficient. And he did manage to catch that huge bag. Its floating rings for the seaweed farming. Plenty of them were also missed and had to be later rescued from the ocean during our unpacking process.

  2. Does the Peace Corps fund a project like this? Or the Government of the Philippines?
    How long was the boat ride from Romblon?
    Is the diving off of Romblon or Sibuyan any good, or do you have to go farther abroad to get to the best diving destinations?

  3. The project was funded through the Provincial Government of Romblon, but I think that the government received some funds following Typhoon Yolanda to be used for rebuilding/recovery. We were not hard hit in terms of infrastructure, literally I have not heard of any Yolanda-specific devastation at my site, however the funding is being used to create alternative livelihoods for fisherman who may have noticed a decline in fishing quality???

    The boat ride there took 2.5 hrs because the seas were so rough and we were loaded and riding heavy, Usually it might be 1.5.

    I went diving for the first time two days ago!!!! Lots of really cool little invertebrates (nudibranchs, cleaner shrimp), but not many big fish because it is so overfished. There are definitely dive spots around Romblon, but the more well known spots are elsewhere (Bohol, Apo Island, Palawan)

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