Brown seaweed (huiro palo, huiro negro and huiro) have a transcendental ecological and ecosystem importance. (Photo crop / BIioArchitecture Lab)
Bill to protect brown seaweed passes to the Senate
Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 06:30 (GMT + 9)
The motion argues that various investigations have shown that only one more degree of temperature in the seas could end up affecting the availability of nutrients and therefore decrease the productivity and growth of this hydrobiological resource.
The bill that establishes environmental and climate change adaptation standards for the seaweed industry is ready to be analyzed in an upcoming regular session of the Senate. The rule, in the first process, has been supported by the members of the Committee on Environment and National Assets in its last session.
The authorship text of Senators Isabel Allende, Guido Girardi, Ricardo Lagos Weber, Ximena Órdenes and Jaime Quintana, states that:
- The State recognizes the importance of seaweed for the environment, especially as the basis of the ecological cycle in coastal and marine ecosystems for various invertebrates, fish and aquatic fauna in general, as well as a source of food for humans. It also recognizes its role for the productive development of the country and the need to promote its conservation as a measure of adaptation to climate change.
- The purpose of the bill is to protect marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as guarantee the conservation of benthic algae resources, both from surface fields and the various types of underwater forests that extend along the coastal zone.
- The right to the collection and harvest of brown seaweed by artisanal fishermen and algae that inhabit the coastal areas of the country is recognized.
- The State of Chile protects and guarantees the conservation of coastal ecosystems and underwater forests of brown seaweed, especially those located in marine reserves.
Lawmakers argue in the motion that "various investigations have shown that, just one more degree of temperature in the seas could end up affecting the availability of nutrients and therefore decrease the productivity and growth of brown seaweed."
They also recognize that “given the characteristics of this fishery, the control methods and the measures established make it very difficult to comply with the protection of underwater effects of brown sseaweed. Adding the non-existence of ports of embarkation or fixed landing, the uncertainty is broader and further questions the current legal system in which the control of the exploitation of this hydrobiological resource is framed.”
It should be noted that seaweed, especially brown seaweed (huiro palo, huiro negro and huiro) have a transcendental ecological and ecosystem importance because they are the basis of numerous natural interconnections of marine food chains, fulfilling functions and giving structure and diversity of habitat. The existence of forests of these underwater plants constitutes the ecosystem of hundreds of other species, serving as substrate, place of refuge and settlement and breeding of invertebrates and fish.
It is relevant to note that seaweed not only provide services as a source of food and as holders of marine and coastal biodiversity, but are also important natural filters for the retention of pollutants.
On average, 25 million tons per year are produced worldwide. From this total, 95% corresponds to cultivated seaweed and only 5% to wild seaweed from natural grasslands. Chile is the world's largest producer of exploited seaweed from wild populations, and is the world's first harvester and producer, with more than 500,000 tons.