Depending on the type of seaweed, the reproduction process differs and therefore the complexity of obtaining seed material does as well. The seeding method is the process of bringing the seed material on to the line used for grow out. The method for attaching these seeded lines to the farm site is called deploying.
Explore Seeding by Species
Eucheumatoid farmers use propagules (seedlings) from their own harvest as seed material or trade them between farms.
Seed production for Eucheumatoids, compared to most other commercially farmed seaweed species, is fairly simple. Individual plants are vegetatively propagated via cuttings or through micropropagation techniques, resulting in clones. The farmers can simply break off parts of the mature seaweed resulting in smaller plantlets or propagules. These propagules can be directly tied to the cultivation (or culture) line.
Tying the seedlings to the culture line is either done by family members or paid workers, in most cases from the same community, that are paid per piece or line. It is the most labour intensive process in Eucheumatoid farming. Anyone can do the tying, but across all regions, women do the majority of tying.
The tying activity usually takes place on land or on a platform, however the farmers need to make sure that the seed material does not stay out of the water for too long.
If seedlings are purchased externally, the price typically correlates with the current market price of seaweed and is traded fresh between farms.
Deploying at sea
In a second step the line with tied seedlings is attached to the farm infrastructure at sea. Alternatively the tying can also take place directly on the farm site, either by boat or on foot, if the water depths at low tide allows for it.
Quality of seed material
Only propagules that are young, vigorous and visually healthy, with no signs of epiphytes, spots, biofilm, bleaching and wounds from grazing, should be used as seed material. However, these are not always available.
In case of disease, poor quality or too little harvest, farmers also buy seed material from other farmers in the village or receive new stocks from local collectors. In some locations we witnessed a lack of seedling material altogether, especially in some locations in the Philippines, where strong typhoons have wiped out the entire seaweed production; or in the farm locations around Semporna, Malaysia where strong impacts from grazers diminish seaweed stocks.
Not having (quality) seed available inhibits farming activities at scale and is a major challenge across the Coral Triangle region.