SeaExpert, based in Faial island since 2003, is a fisheries consulting company involved in several areas related to ocean natural resources. In 2012, seaExpert started a new business branch based on seaweeds manually harvested for nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and similar industries. Over the years, the company developed an exceptional and exquisite product certified by the “Marca Azores” brand and the “European Organic Certification”, being recognized for the adoption of responsible and sustainable practices, and for ensuring a minimum impact on the Azores marine ecosystem. Currently, seaExpert focus on 8 species of seaweeds: the red seaweeeds Asparagopsis armata, Asparagopsis taxiformis, Pterocladiella capillacea and the brown seaweeds Cystoseira abies-marina, Cystoseira humilis, Halopteris scoparia, Sargassum vulgare and Zonaria tournefortii.
Presently, the company is engaged in expanding the Azorean seaweed and seaweed-derived products market to new industries and places across the globe. In 2017, seaExpert started to exploit and supply the demand on edible seaweed species from the Azorean coast. This activity represents a very small share of seaExpert’s seaweed supply branch, although it plays an important role on a local and regional scale. The 7 edible seaweed species supplied are: Asparagopsis taxiformis, Fucus spiralis, Osmundea pinnatifida, Petalonia binghamiae, Porphyra sp., Ulva intestinalis and Ulva rigida. Currently, seaExpert is the only Portuguese company to directly export “Marca Azores” and “European Organic Certification” branded seaweeds to several countries like France, USA, Spain, Italy, Sweden and mainland Portugal.
Many of the species that are currently being exploited by seaExpert are still fairly unknown in terms of biochemical profiles and bioactivities, particularly the non-edible ones. A recent study characterized three seaweed species – Petalonia binghamiae, Halopteris scoparia and Osmundea pinnatifida – collected by seaExpert in Faial island: (Campos et al., 2018). However, the data focused only on the content of fatty acid, polyphenols and antioxidant activity. As the Azorean seaweed species require further study regarding their potential use in several industries, the present project aims to advance our knowledge in the seaweed species supplied by seaExpert, and improve its commercial value.
The planned deliverables for the present project are:
– to perform a taxonomic identification, by means of DNA barcoding, of the main Azorean seaweeds supplied by seaExpert company;
– to share the genetic information of the studied Azorean seaweeds in public databases;
– to use different postharvesting processes in order to identify which strategies will better preserve the seaweeds biochemical properties;
– to characterize the chemical profiles of the seaweed species supplied by seaExpert;
– to create technical data sheets (TDS) for each one of the seaweed species supplied by seaExpert,;
– to bioprospect for antioxidant and other seaweeds bioactivities with interest in several industries;
– to share/publish the project results in regional, national and international scientific meetings/papers.