Algae bloom on a Chinese beach.
Seaweeds are good for the environment and, we believe, offer unparalleled nutritional value. They are rich in nutrients, clean and detox their environments and reduce carbon in the atmosphere. However, ‘seaweed blooms’ can become a nuisance when seaweeds take advantage of extra nutrients in sewage or farm runoffs, often caused by fertilizers, soil erosion or deforestation.
In the ocean, seaweeds provide wonderful ecological values as they provide a habitat and refuge for marine animals. Seaweeds typically grow faster than land plants and in areas of high nitrates the growth can almost be exponential. Too much seaweed can smother corals and other seaweeds and block light from reaching lower depths. It ends up on beaches releasing an unpleasant smelling gas (hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs) and can cause problems for those with respiratory issues.
Removal of this excess seaweed from beaches is time-consuming, expensive, and not always effective. Supporting manufacturers who have responsible and ethical practice around environmental issues is an immediate way we can make a small difference to a problem that is seemingly here to stay.
Always ensure any seaweed you eat has been harvested from a trusted source, away from an area with high run off. Responsible suppliers will also be testing for contaminants before bringing seaweeds to market.