‘Seaweed farming hub’ potential for Argyll and Bute

[UK] A hub for seaweed farming could be formed in Argyll and Bute, a new report has said. Trade in the crop is currently estimated at £3.5bn a year, mainly in south east Asia.

The Scottish Government has recently published a new policy statement on seaweed cultivation, and Argyll and Bute Council wants to launch a 200-page ‘transformational’ report on the local potential in February.

Potential sites include the Clyde sea lochs, the Firth of Lorn, west Mull, east Colonsay, parts of the Sound of Jura and areas to the east of Gigha.

The draft report will be considered by the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday.

Case studies suggest that local communities could set up and run economically viable and environmentally sustainable seaweed farming businesses.

The report states: “The cultivation of seaweed is a major global industry. In Scotland, seaweed farming is still an emergent industry.

“Given Argyll and Bute’s abundant natural resources and strategic position on the west coast of Scotland, the region has potential to be the hub for seaweed farming in Scotland and perhaps Europe.

“Argyll and Bute has the ingredients for success but does not currently have the infrastructure or supply chain that are required to develop these opportunities.

“It has businesses that want to farm seaweed in its pristine waters, with a number of small businesses already collecting and selling seaweed from the wild to the local market.”

Kelp species (Laminaria sp., Alaria esculenta and Saccharina latissima) are said to be the most common, with the seaweed being used in bread, spices, health products, pharmaceuticals, animal feeds and biofuels.

SAMS Research Services Ltd and Imani Development produced a £105,000 feasibility study, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which showed large parts of Argyll and Bute are ‘potentially suitable for establishing seaweed farms’.

It states that the global seaweed industry is growing by 10% a year: “As seaweed continues to grow in popularity within Scotland, UK and European markets, wild stocks are being continually placed under pressure and there is the opportunity to develop cultivation methods for high quality biomass.”

The council officials’ report is here (97k PDF file): RESULTS OF THE SEAWEED FARMING FEASIBILITY STUDY


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