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GlobalSeaweedSTAR worked to safeguard the future of the global seaweed industry. Learn more about our programme and what it achieved below.

About us

GlobalSeaweedSTAR was a four year, challenge-led programme (1 Oct 2017 to 31 Dec 2021) funded by the Global Challenge Research Fund of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) .

The programme brought together an international team of experts in science, policy and economics from nine partner institutions across the United Kingdom, Philippines, Malaysia, Tanzania and Belguim. To meet our team, please click here.

Our challenge

Seaweed farming is the fastest growing of all aquaculture sectors globally, worth over USD 5 billion annually. Most of this farming occurs in developing countries, providing income to millions of families in rural coastal communities and often allowing women to become economically active in areas where few other opportunities exist.

The industry currently faces significant challenges, both ecological and socio-economic. These were highlighted in a recent United Nations University policy brief led by GlobalSeaweedSTAR’s Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (read here) and includes the high vulnerability of seaweed crops to outbreaks of disease and pests, and the lack of biosecurity measures and legislation governing the movement of seaweeds between regions and continents.

Disease and pest infestation can devastate seaweed crops, threatening the industry and the livelihood of the communities reliant on it. In the Philippines alone, crop losses valued at over USD 100 million a year have been attributed to seaweed disease, close to 15 per cent of the country’s annual seaweed production. Similar losses are reported in other countries.

GlobalSeaweedSTAR has addressed the challenges facing the seaweed industry by providing practical solutions and training to stakeholders in developing countries, safeguarding the sustainable growth of this important industry.

What we did

Learn more about our activities.


Our research focused on four core areas: disease and pest detection, biosecurity practices and policy, algal genetic resources and socioeconomic resilience in the seaweed industry.


The GlobalSeaweedSTAR Fund offered support for travel, training and research that built capacity and/or strengthened the seaweed industry in developing countries and the UK.


Online resources for the seaweed industry are available through our website, including a disease diagnosis service (My Seaweed Looks Weird) and biosecurity policy database.


In 2021, we hosted a series of virtual events to exchange knowledge with industry stakeholders. These were hosted by our partners in Malaysia, Tanzania and the Philippines.

“We have succesfully trained people from seaweed-producing developing nations in how to identify disease, support their efforts in breeding better crops and help shape national and international legislations to improve biosecurity. In turn, we have also exchanged information and shared best practices on breeding and cultivation techniques which will benefit a truly global industry.”


Our aims

GlobalSeaweedSTAR worked towards three key development aims. Learn more about each below.





Our work towards these aims directly supported 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.