Seaweed is a valuable renewable resource with high utilisation potential largely unknown to the general public. The possible uses of seaweed are vast, spanning the areas of aesthetics, food and pharmaceuticals to name a few. In fact seaweed is inconspicuously used by consumers on a regular basis in the form of convenience foods and domestic commodities, such as toothpaste. In spite of this, there had previously been no efficient means of keeping abreast with the seaweed industry's latest evolutions. Under the auspices of the SEAWEEDAFRICA project, a seaweed database which expanded on AlgaeBase was developed. AlgaeBase is a database of information on algae that includes terrestrial, marine and freshwater organisms. The SEAWEEDAFRICA database collated the numerous records which were previously published in specialised journals, thus making them more readily available. It provided a realm in which knowledge regarding the high biodiversity of seaweed in African coasts could be expanded. This development is of paramount importance since Africa had not witnessed key developments in the seaweed industry apart from the countries of Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique despite the continent's vast coastline. In effect, local knowledge about seaweed had been quite scarce regardless of the enormous potential which exists. The seaweed database includes a broad scope of information spanning ecological, commercial and technological data. Furthermore, checklists were created for seaweed found in the coasts of Namibia, Kenya and South Africa. These checklists offer background information on each country and its coastal environment. This should prove useful for the advancement of the seaweed industry.
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3 January 2020