Channelnewsasia.com reports on three young Spaniards who harvest seaweed, a culinary delicacy, as a way for them to stay out of Spain’s troubled financial waters. 35-year-old marine scientist Alberto Sanchez, his sister Maria and their friend, 33-year-old biologist Sergio Baamonde transport the algae to a processing factory in the Galician sea port of Ortigueira, in northern Spain.
“It is tough but we are very motivated,” said Baamonde, who joined up with Sanchez in April 2012 to launch the seaweed business. Other prospects were scarce in a country hit by an economic crisis that has left one in four people out of work. Sop they established Ardora Sea Preserves to sell edible seaweed, an industry that took root in the Galicia region in the 1980s.
In 2012, sales of ecological seaweed and related foods in Galicia amounted to 3.8 million euros (US$5 million), according to the region’s maritime and environmental minister, Rosa Quintana.
Baamonde worked at a laboratory in La Coruna University until “they cut the grant.” From 2007 to 2009 he worked as a consultant on seaweed farming to Galician fisheries associations as part off a regional government program.
“Then the economic crisis hit and there was no money for the program,” said Baamonde, who found other jobs for a short period before entering into the seaweed business with his friend. “There is a gap in the market right now in Galicia for this type of gourmet seaweed product and we are trying to fill it,” said Sanchez, who worked at a biomedical research center in Barcelona before launching the venture.
The young entrepreneurs invested 300,000 euros, which they raised from relatives, loans and a small state subsidy, which allowed them to buy the land for the factory, which prepares the seaweed for sale.