Seaweed harvesting today

Interview with André Berthou

President, Syndicat des Récoltants Professionnels d'Algues de Rive de Bretagne

With a lifelong attachment to the sea, André Berthou naturally turned to harvesting shore algae and seaweed farming in 2000. He sees this sector as a future-oriented, innovative profession, and above all as a natural resource to be protected. The Syndicat des Récoltants Professionnels d'Algues de Rive de Bretagne was created in 2008.

Hand-harvesting shore algae © S-R-P-A-R-B

Seaweed harvesting

A sector located in Brittany

There are currently 78 companies harvesting Breton seaweed, 50 of them in Finistère and 3/4 of them in North Finistère! This represents 150 professionals and 200 seasonal workers. Seaweed harvesting at sea and on the foreshore is complemented by seaweed farming. This activity complements the wild, hand-picked resource.

Respecting biodiversity

Harvest while protecting

Harvesting shore algae is part of a process to protect and preserve the coastal environment. Regulated harvesting periods are established to respect the algae's reproduction rhythm. Twenty or so areas are left fallow to protectAscophyllum nodosum (more commonly known as black seaweed or Bezhin du). The work is done at the rhythm of the tides, with our feet in the water. Seaweed is cut with a sickle, knife or plucked for two species: Chondrus crispus (commonly known as pioka) and kelp. The seaweed is transported on boats in sacks.

Hand-harvesting shore algae © S-R-P-A-R-B

a profession

Hand-harvested seaweed

Today, the people working in this profession are descendants of seaweed growers wishing to carry on the tradition, fishing professionals and, increasingly, people wishing to set up in business and engage in short-line sales.

To become a professional seaweed harvester, you need to register with the Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA) or ENIM (établissement national des invalides de la marine) and apply for a license from the Comité Régional Des Pêches Maritimes Et Des Elevages Marins De Bretagne. Non-qualifying training courses are available to help you get started.


A few tips

  • Consume only seaweed attached to a support far from a source of pollution.
  • Be careful not to pull them out, but cut them with a knife or scissors (except for chondrus cripus and kelp, which must be pulled out).
  • Leave the spike and a piece of each seaweed to allow it to regrow.
  • Do not scrape the rock with a tool to preserve the microscopic reproductive stage of certain algae such as chondrus crispus, which looks like black patches on rocks (often mistaken for fuel oil).
  • Leaving algae in place in a field to ensure their reproduction
  • Do not move or turn over rocks

Harvesting periods must be respected to maintain reproduction cycles. Don't hesitate to consult the S.R.P.A.R.B website for more information before you go out.

What can we do with seaweed?

The most widely harvested seaweed on Brittany's coasts isAscophyllum nodosum. It is mainly used as animal feed and soil fertilizer.

Other algae, very rich in trace elements, are used in cooking (dulse(Palmaria palmata), nori, wakame...) or in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

the history of seaweed

Become an expert!

Seaweed has been used for decades in agriculture and local industry. The trade in this super-food, already very popular in Asia, is increasingly developing on our coasts. The same is true of marine cosmetics, which make use of its extraordinary properties. And with good reason: our coastline is the largest seaweed field in Europe!

To deepen your knowledge, here are a few sites to visit.


Leaving with specialists

Durant toute l’année des partenaires ou des associations proposent des sorties sur l’estran afin de reconnaître les algues, les cueillir et… les cuisiner !

Les balades natures

Toute l’année des sorties nature sont proposées, sur l’estran à la découverte des algues, dans l’eau avec des randonnées « palmées » ou sur la terre ferme en forêtà la recherche des oiseaux.