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Development of a seaweed industry

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Michele Stanley, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban

Large-scale cultivation of seaweeds has been practiced across Asia for decades, amounting to 29.4 million tons in 2018, where production volumes have been largely dictated by a speciality food market. Although the UK coastline is uniquely positioned to harbour vast seaweed farms, the development of a marine resource flow (Blue Carbon) is currently severely underexploited across Europe. Properly managed seaweed farms produce biomass rapidly, support biodiversity and mitigate CO2 acidification of the ocean. CO2 concentrations in the oceans are 50 times higher than in the atmosphere; favouring fast growth of photosynthetic, aquatic biomass. Seaweed cultivation requires no fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use and places no demands on fresh water supplies. Given seaweed is the ocean’s natural filtration system, a clear synergy exists when positioned alongside nutrient-releasing salmon farms. Additive to these credentials as a resource flow to multi-product biorefineries, carbon utilisation from seaweed can be effectively maximised given the practical absence of lignin, whereas terrestrial crops are comprised of ~30% recalcitrant lignin. By cultivation area, seaweed farms can produce ~120 tons of wet seaweed per hectare per year; whereas comparatively, wheat production is limited to ~4.5 tons of wheat per hectare per year. But there are issues and we have been slow in adopting this relatively new industry within the UK. This seminar will introduce the concept of seaweed cultivation, potential uses for the biomass and where knowledge gaps exist.

More information about Professor Michele Stanley

Location: Dianna Bowles Lecture Theatre (B/K/018)