Seaweed can be harvested using three processes Beach Cast, Wild Harvest, and Commercial Farming. There are thousands of species of seaweed globally. Understanding the season, depth, and climate preference of the species you hope to collect is critical to a good harvest and ensuring the regeneration of the plant.

Beach cast seaweed for harvesting

Beach Cast Seaweed

Seaweed is abundant and free to harvest along shorelines and beach cast harvesting is the easiest method to collect seaweeds. All you need is a mesh bag.

Seaweed can be foraged at the beach immediately after a storm or high-tide. Look for fresh items washed ashore. Make sure you also choose clean areas of water away from settlements as seaweed can become contaminated by run off and pollution in the area.

Ensure you follow regulations to follow set by your local government to ensure sustainability.

Wild Harvest Seaweed

There are two ways to collect wild harvest seaweeds, by foot or boat. For this kind of harvest, use a sharp cutting tool or scissors and cut no more than the top 30% of the plant. Never pull up a plant from the base! This process of harvesting allows the plant to continue regenerating through photosynthesis and limits interference with their natural growing cycle.

On foot, harvest the plants at low-tide on a calm day when it is safest to wade into the shallows. Mind not to step on the small critters and barnacles.

The same harvesting rules apply for collecting via a small vessel, paddle board, or by snorkelling/freediving.

The Province of British Columbia has the responsibility for the wild harvest of marine aquatic plants under Part 3 of the Fish and Seafood Licensing Regulations. Wild aquatic plants are shared resources, and harvesting is regulated to balance environmental, cultural, and economic values.

There are different requirements to harvest aquatic plants for domestic personal use, educational or scientific purposes, and commercial harvesting. Please read British Columbia’s requirements and how-to information for harvesting in BC; or read your local regulations if harvesting elsewhere.

Province of British Columbia
Cascadia Seaweed Kelp Harvest, May 2022

Farmed Seaweed

Commercially farmed seaweed is more common in Asia, however there is a rapidly growing industry in North America; specifically in British Columbia, Maine and California.

This type of seaweed harvesting is operated under a license and is monitored and strictly regulated.

In the early stages of farmed seaweed, it is grown in an onshore tank. Then it is attached to a line and put out in the ocean or moved to a larger tank depending on its species. Once mature, the seaweed is harvested and processed commercially.

Farmed seaweed is typically used for food and beauty products, cattle feed, or bioplastics.

Read here to learn more about farming seaweed.

You’ve Collected Seaweed, Now What?

Use a mesh bags (or any bag with drainage holes) for collecting seaweed so that the water can drain out. If you are harvesting on a hot day, or will be out for many hours, bring a cooler with ice to keep the seaweed fresh.

Clean the seaweed: When home, fill a container with water and repeatedly dunk and swish the seaweed around to remove any debris and sand.

Dry the seaweed: Hang the seaweed across a line of rope in a sunny area, much like laundry, until shrivelled and completely dry.

Store seaweed: Seaweed is best stored in glass jars with sealed lids. Any moisture that comes into contact with the seaweed will be absorbed by the plant, reducing its shelf life.

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