Seaweed Cultivation of Korea
The seaweed culture grounds in Korea are mainly concentrated on the west side of the south coast where almost 90% of total seaweed cultivation occurs. In terms of production quantity by species, Undaria dominated production constituting 46% of the total wet weight production. However, Porphyra is the most valuable species as it has 70% of total seaweed production in value aspect.
Porphyra cultivation in Korea came to a turning point in the 1960s. In the early 1960s, the method of seeding moved from natural to artificial in association with the culture of the oyster shell conchocelis phase. Since the early 1980s, the floating system eventually replaced the fixed-pole system, and frozen, seeded nets were commonly used. The annual production of Porphyra has also increased even more markedly since the 1980s due to the artificial seeding, transplanting of new species and expansion of the culture grounds. Porphyra production from culture beds has steadily increased during the last 30 years. It is currently estimated to be 270,000 tons (wet wt.) which is equivalent to more than 10 billion sheets of dried laver (Sohn 1998). Increase in production has become more pronounced since the 1980s due to artificial seeding, transplantation of new species and expansion of the culture grounds as well as the development and implementation of the float-system of cultivation. Production jumped significantly again in 1991. Good quality of Porphyra products are in strong demand in Korea and consequently provides higher prices for the product.
Utilization of seaweed in Korea
Traditionally, Koreans used seaweeds as raw or sun-dried materials only for food, but since the 1980s many seaweed products have been manufactured by industry, e.g. dried laver by automatic machines, toasted laver, salted or cut Undaria, boiled and sun-dried Hizikia, etc. Recently, several processed fast foods and various packaged goods also have been manufactured. Almost all cultivated Porphyra is processed to form dried sheets by automatic machines. Production of dried laver occupies the top position among all marine products obtained from a single fishery in value aspects. It has a value of approximately US$ 161 million in 1997. Salted Undaria is one of the most important processed seaweed products at present, and it is manufactured mainly in the Wando area in southwest coast of Korea. The annual production of Undaria increased as the top quantity of seaweed cultivation. As increase demand on healthy food source, recent consumption on seaweed is more and more increasing.