Customary Rights and Cultural Practices

Everywhere there is seaweed, there are also traditional, artisanal seaweed cultures: culinary, medicinal, and horticultural traditions that bring these important minerals onto the land to integrate them into terrestrial systems.


Historically, small amounts of marine algae have been harvested by coastal peoples for food and on-farm fertility, which expanded in the nineteenth century to include various industrial inputs.


In Scotland, there are sheep adapted to digesting seaweed, in Shetland, there are cabbages adapted to growing in sand + seaweed culture, in Ireland the poverty foods of laverbread and carrageenan pudding helped farmers survive the potato famine. On Jeju island off of South Korea a woman-led seaweed harvesting culture, in France, the farmers combed the beaches with horses to bring seaweed into their gardens.

The traditional rights and territorial squabbles over which seaweed belongs to which farmers are bound up in lore and legend, so-called ‘customary rights’ negotiated in place over time. 


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