About the Species
Sugar kelp is a yellowish brown marine algae wildly cultivated and eaten in Asia and growing in popularity in the United States as a nutritious food high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Sugar kelp has long been known as a sweetener and having thickening and gelling qualities that can be added to food and cosmetics. Sugar kelp is being grown and harvested by more commercial farms for a variety of uses, from food to potential biofuels.
Sugar kelp provides net environmental benefits by removing excess nutrients and carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to mitigate against ocean acidification.
Growing sugar kelp requires no feed — sugar kelp produce their own food through photosynthesis, using sunlight, carbon dioxide and water.
Sugar kelp lines are seeded in a land based nursery and then placed in tanks or marine waters for grow out.
Sugar kelp is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, iodine, and magnesium.
- Sugar kelp are yellowish or dark-brown and green in color.
- They resemble large lasagna noodles and have a long narrow, undivided blade with a short thin stem.
- The central band of the blade is dimpled while the margins are smoother with a wavy edge. The crinkled blade gives the sugar kelp it’s other common names.
- Sugar kelp reach maturity between 3 and 4 years of age.
- Their blade can grow up to 5 meters (16 feet) long and 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) wide.
- Sugar kelp can live for 2-4 years and grow quickly in colder months.
- Permitting for sugar kelp aquaculture is governed by federal, state and local governments.
- The federal agencies involved are NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Sugar kelp farms must adhere to federal regulations including those in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.