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Wild Seaweed Harvesting: "The Next Big Industry in Iceland”? Ways to encourage sustainable harvesting and improve the regulatory framework on seaweed

Wild Seaweed Harvesting in Iceland: Ways to encourage sustainable exploitation


  • Ásta Maack

Summary, in Swedish

Brown seaweed or macro-algae are multicellular plant-like organisms that inhabit various shores surrounding West-America and Northern Europe. Seaweed deliver highly important ecosystem services and provide habitats and shelter for other species, serving as a food source and take part in the nutrient recycling of Silica, Phosphorus and Nitrogen on land and in the sea. Seaweed has been harvested for its high alginate content and is increasingly used as fertiliser in agricultural industries, as a thickening agent in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, and for human consumption. As the wild seaweed harvesting industry has grown in recent years, experts have called for robust regulations that ensure sustainable exploitation. In direct response to lenient regulations, several organisations have published standards that aim to encourage sustainable exploitation of wild seaweed. These standards include criteria, recommendations and guidelines that harvesting companies are encouraged to follow. Iceland is one of the countries where wild seaweed are harvested, and a regulatory framework on wild seaweed harvesting was recently implemented. The goal of this framework is to promote sustainable utilisation of exploited marine stocks. The purpose of this research was to identify which ecological and economic criteria must be in place to ensure sustainable exploitation of wild seaweed. To this end, standards, the Icelandic seaweed regulatory framework and stakeholders’ interviews were explored. In addition, the author set out to analyse which criteria the Icelandic seaweed regulatory framework includes, and which alterations can be made to ensure continuous sustainable exploitation of wild seaweed in Iceland.

Publishing year





IIIEE Master Thesis

Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • Wild Seaweed
  • Seaweed Havresting
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Regulatory framework
  • Seaweed Regulation
  • Iceland

Report number



  • Carl Dalhammar (Assistan Professort)


  • ISSN: 1401-9191