The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed in the Budget to set up a a multi-purpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu as part of promoting seaweed cultivation.

According to the Minister, seaweed farming is an emerging sector with potential to transform the lives of coastal communities and will provide large employment and additional income.

Welcoming the initiative, A Gopalakrishnan, Director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, said the proposed park could be a multi-purpose hub for a variety of economic activities related to seaweed farming, business development and bio-prospecting. Presently, seaweeds are being cultivated by hundreds of fishermen along the Palk Bay coast in Tamil Nadu. The proposal will help the fisherfolk and coastal entrepreneurs in the State, he said.

The commercially exploited seaweed species in India mainly include Kappaphycus alvarezii, Gracilaria edulis , Gelidiella acerosa, Sargassum spp. and Turbinaria spp. Seaweeds are valued for commercial products such as Karrageenan and Agar besides being used for the production of polysaccharides, fertilizer, sludge and other high-value products such as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals for use against various lifestyle diseases.

K Riji John, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, said that the development of seaweed park would go a long way in addressing the nutritionally security of a large segment of undernourished and underprivileged marginal communities.

“India being a tropical belt, we have a number of economically important seaweed species which can be commercially exploited. The operation of this park needs to be extended to Lakshadweep where there is high potential for seaweed farming which is still remain so under explored,” he said.

Seaweeds are storehouse of essential amino acids, natural antioxidants, minerals and other micro-nutrients. However, awareness of the advantages on the consumption of the seaweeds are not properly penetrated to our community, he added.