Introducing sea weed (Eucheuma denticulatum) culture to Fishermen in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka

30 July 2009 | News story

a collaborative project with a Member, Sewa Lanka Foundation

Sea weeds are cultivated for extraction of carrageenans, which are polysaccharide gels used in confectionery and in a variety of other industries. South-east Asia is one of the largest producers of carrageenans through extensive cultivation of marine algae.

Demand for carrageenan is steadily rising. In Sri Lanka, many confectionery manufacturers are interested in acquiring carrageenan locally, and the demand is expected to increase regularly. Currently, there is no organised sea weed cultivation in Sri Lanka.

Under the Mangroves for the Future Programme (MFF), IUCN Sri Lanka Office provided a small grant to one of the Members, Sewa Lanka Foundation to start a pilot sea weed culture initiative. In this activity, the sea weed Eucheuma denticulatum is being cultivated in cages in the seas off Panama and Pottuvil in the east coast of Sri Lanka. This is a novel project, as sea weed culture is not known well in Sri Lanka.
The Sewa Lanka Foundation works in collaboration with two fisher societies, namely, the Abeysinghapura-Panama Fisheries Cooperative Society and the United Deep Sea Fisheries Cooperative Society. Six fishermen chosen by the Societies have been provided with 60 cages (each 2 m x 1.25 m x 0.5 m) and sea weed ‘seeds’ together with technical assistance.

The initial results are very promising with the sea weed growing profusely. The additional income from sea weed culture to the fisher families will uplift the living standards of the coastal fishing community; at the same time, the project will help to transfer new aquaculture technology to the beneficiaries.