Report Says Putting Algae on Menus Could Help Save Seafood

Scientists looking at future needs to feed millions of people in the face of climate change say adding algae to the menu could help save seafood.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), farming organisms such as algae could help counter some effects of climate change on the rest of the food chain. For example, growing more seaweed, a type of algae that has been eaten for centuries, lowers the amount of carbon dioxide in the surrounding water, reduces acidification, and improves the environment for oysters and other shellfish. Managing seaweed harvest correctly will also maintain the dissolved oxygen and nutrient levels in the water, contributing to the overall health of the ocean, said the report from the IAEA’s Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre.

Should there be a need to feed 9.8 billion people by 2050 food from the ocean will have to play a major role, but some 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are already seriously depleted according to the document. IAEA points to a report from Science Advice for Policy by European Academies that proposes harvesting species at lower trophic levels and supporting the mariculture of macroalgae, and marine herbivores and carnivores. That report identifies four main option groups, including improvement utilization of wastes in traditional capture fisheries, fishing new wild species currently not exploited, mariculture of organisms that extract their nutrients directly from water, and mariculture of organisms that require feed.

Making algae a common part of more people’s diets won’t be easy, so any new algae products on our dinner plates will need to be nutritional, attractive and safe to eat. But sticking with the traditional salmon and tuna diet isn’t sustainable, according to the report.

The full SAPEA report is online at