Globally, China has the largest scale of kelp cultivation and production operations. However, its kelp aquaculture industry is suffering from declining germplasm diversity, degradation of agronomic traits, the presence of polluted
environments, changing ocean conditions and increasing anthropological interference. This review covers two of the most commercially important kelp species in China, viz. Saccharina japonica and Undaria pinnatifida. It summarizes the history of their cultivation, production, economic and ecological benefits, their breeding programmes (e.g. inter- and intra-specific hybridization and marker-assisted selection) and efforts towards population genetic diversity and conservation. The article focuses on three significant challenges, for example genetic crosscontamination between the wild and farmed kelp populations, ocean warming and ocean acidification. Accordingly, we outline the steps required to provide several intervention measures, for example (i) collection and preservation of wild and cultivated kelp germplasm; (ii) selection of suitable cultivation sites under changing environmental conditions; (iii) developing stress-resistant cultivars; and finally, (iv) adoption of innovative cultivation models. The review concludes with genome-based, designs for molecular breeding and calls for the establishment of an East Asian Kelp Consortium (EAKC). Collectively, the Chinese kelp industry could provide beneficial goods and services, for example bioenergy to fine chemicals and environmental benefits, such as carbon capture, pH amelioration and provision of habitat for many other marine species of commercial value. The strategies proposed in this article thus have the potential to not only improve but also reinvigorate the kelp industry in China and nearby Japan and Korea, in the context of both environmental health and economic benefits.
Hu Z.-M., Shan T.-F., Zhang J., Zhang Q.-S., Critchley A. T., Choi H.-G., Yotsukura N., Liu F.-L. & Duan D.-L., in press. Kelp aquaculture in China: a retrospective and future prospects. Reviews in Aquaculture. Article.