Emerging Species for Seaweed Aquaculture
The University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Research is home to the sea vegetable aquaculture nursery where new native species are being developed for aquaculture. Dulse (Palmaria palmata), laver (Porphyra umbilicalis), horsetail kelp (Laminaria digitata), gracilaria (Gracilaria tikvahiae), and skinny kelp (Saccharina latissima forma angustissima) are all in various stages of development.
Gracilaria tikvahiae is a warmer water sea vegetable that is found in Maine in shallow warm embayments in the summer months. It is a valuable agarophyte and sea vegetable cultivated around the world. Cultivation of gracilaria is being explored on land and at sea, as part of an integrated multi-tropic aquaculture system, and as an alternative summer species. Another warm water brown seaweed species that could be a candidate for aquaculture in southern New England and south is Sargassum. Maine Sea Grant has created a Sargassum cultivation manual for those looking for a warmer water species. This species is not native to Maine, and is not considered for culture here. Any type of seaweed aquaculture must be based on native species only, and it is important to use local parent plants for seed stock, to maintain natural local genetic diversity.