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Korea plans to collect collagen for cosmetics from jellyfish

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 24-Aug-2012

The government in South Korea has revealed a novel plan to fight the on-going jellyfish the country suffers from: to use their collagen extracts in cosmetic products.

According to the Korean Herald, the plan was unveiled this week, and the government has asked local researchers to look into ways of carrying it out.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries explains that it will try to eliminate the on-going problems Koreans have with jellyfish, by getting scientists to find ways to extract collagen from the sea creature and use it in cosmetics.

Research underway

The researchers chosen for this task were from the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute who stated that research to find a way to carry out the plan, was already underway.

“We have begun a project to extract collagen from jellyfish and use them in cosmetics. This will be an effective way to use the jellyfish once only considered as a nuisance,” Lim Chi-won, senior researcher at the institute, told the Korea Times.

It is not the first time this idea has been looked into; having explored the possibilities in 2007, the plan was then scrapped due to lack of interest.

Two birds, one stone

However, if the research is a success and becomes commercially viable this time, then the fishing industry in Korea will benefit, not only from sales, but from having the local ‘nuisance’ removed from its seas.

Jellyfish suddenly appears in the summer and autumn off the national shores, and is reportedly doing harm on national fishing and the tourism industry.

The large appearance and weight of the jellyfish often destroys fishing gears or impairs the quality of fishery products, as well as causes social problems like shock and skin damages, when contacting with fishermen and beach bathers.

Other countries going through similar struggles are China and Japan. In Japan, the government is urging increasing public consumption of jellyfish by-products such as edibles and cosmetics.

However, the same has not been tried in Korea, as the Nomura jellyfish has a strong flavour and is highly toxic, making it difficult to market.

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