Site selection for Eucheuma spp. farming
Seaweed are important raw materials in the manufacture of phytocolloids like alginates, agar, and carrageenan which are used in food production, pharmaceuticals and other industrial products.
Carrageenan is used in a wide variety of food products as a gelling agent, viscosity builder and stabilizing and emulsifying agent. For example in dairy products such as ice cream, sherbets, chocolates, custards, cake topping and fillings, milk shakes, yoghurts, and liquid products including beers, dessert gel, canned foods, fish gel, and sauces. Non-food products include surgical jellies, lotions and ointment, toothpastes, paints, shampoos, medicinals and artificial food for fishes. The major seaweed used for the production of carrageenan are of the genera Chondrus, Gigartina (temperate species), Eucheuma and Hypnea (tropical species).
At present Eucheuma farming is widely practiced among artisanal fishermen in the Philippines, Indonesia and Fiji. It is one of the seafarming commodities that require low capital investment and has a rapid rate of return. The farming of Eucheuma is a way of improving family income of the village fishermen. It also creates employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, and can promote the expansion of industrial production based on locally available, renewable raw materials, and increase in foreign exchange earnings through export of these raw materials and/or industrial products derived from them. These make seaweed farming important to rural development in the Asia-Pacific region.