Crops from the sea - strategy sets out plan to increase volume of farmed seaweed in Ireland
Seaweed farming is in its infancy in Ireland, however, a new strategy, BIM Irish Macro-Algal Cultivation Strategy to 2030, published by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) this week sets out a roadmap for the development of a sustainable and profitable Irish seaweed aquaculture sector.
Michael O'Neill, CEO Pure Ocean Algae
Seaweed is increasingly being viewed as an important sustainable raw material, containing many active substances for use in different industries including, food production, , pharma and agriculture. The commercial cultivation of seaweed has increased significantly in the last two decades. Annual global seaweed output is now in excess of 35 million wet tonnes, 97% of which is cultivated biomass. Most of the farmed seaweed is from Asia (China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea & Philippines).
In referring to the ambitions of the new strategy, Caroline Bocquel, CEO BIM, said: “To ensure a sustainable and economically profitable aquaculture industry in Ireland, the volume of farmed seaweed must increase. This new strategy sets out a roadmap for the seaweed sector to realise its potential. Ireland’s long coastline and clean, cold waters present the ideal conditions to cultivate seaweed, and to sustainably develop this crop that is highly resource efficient, requiring minimal resource input.”
Red seaweed, Dulce, in the hatchery at Pure Ocean Algae, Allihies, West Cork
There are currently 25 licenced seaweed farms in Ireland, located along the North West, West and South West coastline Farmed seaweeds are grown on ropes and nets, and are exceptionally fast growing plants.
Pure Ocean Algae, Hatchery, located in rural coastal location of Allihies, West Cork
Michael O’Neill, seaweed farmer, in Allihies, West Cork welcomed the new strategy and spoke of the need to unlock the potential of the seaweed sector in Ireland to meet the growing demand for sustainably produced food. “The seaweed industry has the highest potential for growth in the Irish aquaculture sector. Ireland has always been a supplier of high-quality seaweeds for various uses, but there have been limitations, to date, on the scalability of the industry. The advances in cultivation technology and processing, leaves Ireland extremely well positioned to become a major player in the international seaweed industry, with the demand for seaweed biomass and seaweed-based products outstripping supply for the foreseeable future. Pure Ocean Algae welcomes the new strategy and looks forward to playing its part in the implementation of the findings of this review.”
To read the strategy in full, visit bim.ie