Seaweeds are members of intertidal and subtidal marine communities of organisms that have been subjects of intensive academic investigation over several decades. This work has contributed greatly to our understanding of community ecology, physiology, phylogeny and taxonomy. In addition totheir academic significance, seaweeds and their products have enormous economic importance, generating in excess of US$3 billion per year in revenues. The International Seaweed Symposia are unique gatherings of industrialists and academics who are interested in sharing the findings of their research on marine macroalgae. The papers in these Proceedings represent the majority of communications presented at the 17th symposium held in Cape Town in2001. The selection of articles covers technical aspects of the seaweed industry including extraction, processing, utilization and marketing of products. Of particular importance is the wide range of papers on seaweed farming. The Proceedings also includes several papers that deal with management ofwild resources. In addition to industrial utilization of seaweeds and their products, current studies within the academic fields of taxonomy, ecology, phylogeny and physiology are included. Some of these papers seem remote from any industrial perspective, but, in fact, utilization of livingorganisms must depend on an adequate knowledge of biology. Among living organisms, seaweeds are a very under-studied group and this almost certainly acts as barrier to further industrial production.