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Seaweed Harvesting Code of Conduct

Natural England has worked closely with the Crown Estate, Cornwall and Devon Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs), National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust to produce a code of conduct for seaweed harvesting. We advise that anyone harvesting seaweed in England should adhere to this code, whether harvesting is for commercial purposes or not. The code of conduct is available as a separate document.
  1. Always consult Natural England and your local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) before harvesting seaweed and obtain permission from the landowner.
  2. Harvest seaweed only by hand – mechanical methods should not be used.
  3. Do not use vehicles on the foreshore.
  4. Avoid disturbing wildlife such as seabirds and seals by keeping an appropriate distance away.
  5. Avoid or minimise trampling on non-target organisms and avoid taking ‘bycatch’such as stalked jellyfish, brittlestars, bryozoans and blue-rayed limpets.
  6. Collect less than one third of an individual plant to allow for regrowth.
  7. Cut fronds (leaves) well above the point of growth (e.g. the meristem for kelps)and always leave the holdfast attached.
  8. Harvest sparsely, taking only a small percentage of standing stock.*
  9. Rotate harvesting areas to allow ample time for recovery. Harvested areas should be left for up to several years, depending on the species, before harvesting again.*
  10. Harvest seaweeds during the active growth season to allow for quicker recovery.*
  11. Harvest seaweeds after reproduction has occurred if possible and ensure a substantial proportion of mature plants remain.*
  12. Take extra care when harvesting invasive non-native seaweeds to ensure that seaweeds or spores are not transferred to other areas. Follow ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ biosecurity principles, checking, cleaning and drying all equipment and clothing when moving between sites to ensure that invasive species, pests and diseases are not spread to new areas. **(
  13. Do not collect drift seaweed from the entire length of strandlines – harvest sparsely as this constitutes an important habitat.
  14. Keep records of volumes of each species of seaweed harvested, along with date and location.
  15. Limit harvesting in erosion prone coastal areas (i.e. dunes) where kelp forests dissipate wave energy.
  16. Please be aware that foreshores can be hazardous. Do not put yourself at risk of injury by collecting seaweed in adverse conditions and be aware of tides.
*Consult Natural England for further information/ advice
** For information on how to identify non-native seaweeds, please see the GBNNSS


Cornwall Good Seafood Guide is underpinned by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Good Fish Guide. The first UK consumer guide to sustainable seafood. For more information visit

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