Analia Murias reports in that Japan, China and South Korea account for 84 per cent of applications and products patents derived from macroalgae. This comes from a study led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) into the distribution of these patents among countries worldwide, conducted between 1980 and 2009.

Macroalgae crops are increasing by 7.5 per cent on average every year, the CSIC reported. They have become an important part of marine aquaculture through diversification of demand for macroalgae-based products including bioenergy, cosmetics and biomedicine. The research, which compared this international distribution with the production capacity and the scientific effort involved in aquaculture was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

According to Inés Mazarrasa, CSIC researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, “Countries like the Philippines or Indonesia, major producers but with a low investment in research, have not registered patents. Initially we expected that the macroalgae patents market was more evenly distributed among producing countries.”

“The increase in demand for new macroalgae products and applications could open a chance for traditional producing countries to benefit from their macroalgae production capacity,” Mazarrasa said. “Scientific collaboration and investment is essential for enhancing a production of more sophisticated products and a sustainable development from their own natural resources, as the Convention on Biological Technology promotes.”