Seaweeds of Connemara
In the past seaweed was the most vital fertilizers used in Connemara. Much of the soil on the Aran islands was made by mixing sand and seaweed.
Since the 18th Century over 500 different species of seaweed / algae have been identified around the shores of Ireland.
With the Gulf Stream and Ireland being located between 51 and 55 °N, many warm water species of seaweed / algae are at their Northern Limit and also some cold water species are at their Southern Limit.
Of the 500 species around the shores of Ireland, only a few are harvested and used commercially. A PDF brochure on Irish seaweeds can be downloaded here.
Ireland produces 32,000 tonnes (wet) / 10,000 tonnes (dry) of seaweed a year. It is all harvested from the sea shore. This is about 0.5% of the world total production.
80 - 95% of all seaweed is used in food and cosmetics. The rest is used for food and animal feed.
These areas of economic value are :
- Food and food supplements - edible seaweeds / algae that are sold as sea vegetables (sea veg, sea veggies)
- Fertilisers, liquid seaweed extracts and soil conditioners
- raw material for seaweed polymers such as the alginate industry
- cosmetics, body care, thalassotherapy and medicinal preparations.
A study (Zip file) on the potential for greater commerciaization of irish sea weed resources can be downloaded here.