Seaweed has been harvested in Brittany for industry since the XVII century.
Some species are also collected on the Pays Basque coasts.
About 15 species are mainly used.
Seaweed is fished by boat and harvested on the shore line.
In 2008, a survey was done by the Syndicate on harvesting activity in Brittany. The conclusions wer
- The wrack (Fucus sp. and Ascophyllum nodosum) is harvested by professionals (about 20 persons), whose global sales are around 300 000 €.
- Other edible seaweed is harvested on the shore line mainly by casual harvesters but also by some professionals. This activity was not really controlled in past years but since 2007, the Syndicate has been working with all the stakeholders concerned, in order to manage shore line harvesting in a sustainable way and find legal solutions for these workers’ status. There are about 300 casual harvesters. The amount of their sales is around 300 000 € per annum.
The seaweed conversion sector’s main characteristics are its high diversity
of applications and its creativity in research and development.
- Alginates are extracted from kelps. They are used for ice-cream, flan, toothpaste etc.
- Twelve seaweed is authorized for human food: they are cleaned, sold fresh (conserved in salt), or converted to be components of pasta, condiments, spices combinations…
- Seaweed’s active principles are used for pharmacy, cosmetics, thalassatherapy.
- Seaweed’s richness as a fertilizer has been known for a long time.
67 companies produce and sell products using seaweed and marine plants. They employ 1635 persons (not including food industry). The total sales in 2007 were around 424 millions Euros. (source : study made by the Chamber of Industry of Brest, July 2008).