Algae, including seaweeds (or marine macro-algae) and microalgae, contribute nearly 30 percent of world aquaculture production (in wet weight), primarily from seaweeds. Seaweeds and microalgae generate socioeconomic benefits to tens of thousands of households, primarily in coastal communities, including numerous women empowered by seaweed cultivation and processing.

Various human health contributions, environmental benefits and ecosystem services of seaweeds and microalgae have drawn increasing attention to the untapped potential of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Highly imbalanced production and consumption across geographic regions imply great potential in the development of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Joint efforts of governments, the industry, the scientific community, international organizations, civil societies, and other stakeholders are needed to realize the potential.

This working document examines the status and trends of global algae production with a focus on algae cultivation, recognizes the algae sector’s existing and potential contributions and benefits, highlights a variety of constraints and challenges upon the realization of the potential, and discusses lessons learned and way forward to unlock the full potential in algae cultivation and FAO’s role in the process.