IUCN Sri Lanka initiates a collaborative project with a member organisation

Under the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) Programme, IUCN Sri Lanka provided a small grant to one of its Members, Sewa Lanka Foundation, to start a pilot seaweed culture initiative.

Seaweed culture initiative

In this project, the seaweed Eucheuma denticulatum is being cultivated in cages in the seas of Panama and Pottuvil in the east coast of Sri Lanka. This is a novel project, as seaweed culture is not known well in Sri Lanka.

Seaweeds 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 seaweed cultivation 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 seaweed ‘seeds’ together with technical assistance. The initial results are very promising with the seaweed growing profusely. The additional income from seaweed culture to the fisher families will uplift the living standards of the coastal fishing community and at the same time, the project will also help transfer the new aquaculture technology to the beneficiaries.

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