Go-ahead for ­seaweed harvesting

A company has obtained permission to harvest seaweed from beach areas.

08 October 2019 | Business

Swakopmund - Adolf Kaure

An application by Hallie Investment to harvest seaweed has been approved by the municipality.

The company initially obtained permission from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to harvest seaweed along the beaches of Swakopmund.

Council currently employs people on a contract basis to collect and dispose seaweed at the local landfill site.

Hallie Investments intends to collect seaweed that washed out on the beaches at no cost. The material will be transported to a plant owned by the company in Swakopmund.

According to the company, the collected seaweed will be processed and prepared for export to extract gums (colloidal chemicals that are used in many industries).

Haillie Investments also pledged to collect other debris like plastic bottles on the beach for recycling purposes.

The company will now submit an operational plan that outlines when and where they will collect, as well as how they intend to store the materials before transportation.

Karl //Gowaseb of Benguella Seaweed, an affiliate company of Hallie Investments, said an estimated 40 workers could be employed.

“We are targeting pig farming and will produce pig pellets for export to Europe. We are still in the process of finalising the operational plans and actual operations could kick off next year.”

//Gowaseb said the company plans to involve all coastal towns except Lüderitz and are negotiating with municipalities for a place to put up the processing plant.

“We would like to harvest approximately two tons per month. This is a win-win for council and our company. It will result in cleaner beaches and employment creation.”

The management committee of council noted that permission was granted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and that a supporting letter was received from the ministry.

Swakopmund mayor Paulina Nashilundo pointed out that seaweed can be harvested sustainably and added that harvesting operations must however take into account the role seaweed play as habitats, natural coastal defences and nursery grounds for other organisms in the marine ecosystems.

“Therefore harvesting must be restricted to collecting washed out seaweed on the beach areas. No direct harvesting from the sea will be allowed. The drying or partial drying of seaweed on site is prohibited,” Nashilundo said during the recent council monthly meeting.

Seaweed is harvested worldwide primarily for the extraction of chemicals that serve as gelling and thickening agents in food as well as medical and microbiological work.

Apart from providing valuable gelling agents, seaweed is also important for direct consumption by human, animal feed supplement, as food for abalone farms, and as fertiliser.

Seaweed plays an important role in the coastal and marine ecosystems. Kelp (sea bamboo) forests are one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on earth, with kelp often described as “ecosystem engineers”, as they are key habitat-forming species.

Seaweed is also a valuable food source for all sorts of animals, both directly and indirectly. Some graze on seaweed itself, while others feed on the organic matter that the seaweed releases into coastal waters.

It is also used as a habitat for animals and other marine plants. Kelp forests have been found to provide nursery grounds for commercial fish and shellfish as well as food resources for seabirds.

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