In the Galway Bay area the carragheen species, Chondrus crispus Stackh. and Gigartina stellata (Stackh.) Batt., are still collected using traditional methods. The weeds are picked by hand, spread out on any convenient area of grass, allowed to dry and, in the case of Chondrus, bleach in the open air. Most collecting is done during the autumnal equinoctial spring tides and is virtually restricted to the intertidal zone.
The Irish seaweed industry has declined since 1960, when according to Chapman (1970) production reached its peak. When describing the industry in 1974, Cahill & Sweeney made the following comments. ‘A small number of firms are engaged in harvesting and primary processing. Between 1000 and 1250 people are seasonally employed. Almost 40000 tons of wet weed are harvested annually with a landed value of approximately £200000. Harvesting techniques are largely manual and there is a possibility that the industry may decline in the medium term as alternative and more lucrative employment opportunities become available.’