natural products
written by Dr. Carol Hopper Brill

Marine Natural Products Data Activity Level 2

Who Harvests Seaweeds?

How have seaweed harvests changed over time? Look more closely at the trends in brown and red seaweed harvesting over time by the top producing countries. You can have students work in teams to retrieve and plot the data (for example: one team per country for red seaweeds, one each for brown seaweeds).

For graphing skills opportunities:

What factors have caused increases in seaweed production? Look closely at the plot for red algae harvest in the Philippines. Can you see a big change in the red algae harvest? When did seaweed harvest appear to increase dramatically?

The trend here can be traced to a breakthrough researched and promoted by a university scientist from the U.S. working with local communities in the Philippines. An individual scientist can make a difference, even one that studies seaweeds! Now, many seaweed production companies in the Philippines have international customers. And, seaweed aquaculture is being exported to other Pacific Islands as a means of increasing cash-generating exports.

Who imports seaweeds?

How are prices for seaweed linked to production? Supply and demand is one of the rules of economics that drives the price of commodities. Look at the TradeData charts 10 & 13 of global seaweed imports and average import prices. Describe the relationship between import quantity and price per ton. Go back to your FAOStats tables, and look at patterns of seaweed production over time. Can you find the source of the fluctuation reported for seaweed imports and pricing? What factors might cause the patterns? ( Hint: you may need to learn about seaweed biology and aquaculture practices, go to the Marine Algae page for more references.)

The Price of Progress

Some of the most productive seaweed species have been transplanted outside their natural range. In their new environment, they are "introduced" or "alien" species. Despite the best intentions and efforts of researchers & industry, these aquaculture species sometimes escape into the wild and have serious ecological impacts. Research the natural distribution of 3 seaweeds grown for the chemical market.

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