The emerging UK seaweed farming industry takes a huge step forward as the Seaweed Academy at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban is officially opened. The Seaweed Academy is the UK’s first dedicated seaweed industry facility, using the research knowledge generated at SAMS to offer advice to startups, train workers and share the latest research to help businesses develop. The £407,000 funding for the project has come from the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.
Globally, the seaweed farming industry has been growing exponentially and is estimated to be worth around $15 billion per annum. However, the vast majority of this activity is in Asia and there is huge growth potential in Europe, with a growing demand for seaweed from gourmet restaurants to livestock feeds.
The Seaweed Academy will be operated by SAMS, in partnership with SAMS Enterprise and UHI Argyll, a fellow academic partner within UHI, and will deliver immediate economic benefit to Argyll and Bute. It also aims to stimulate the growth of UK seaweed aquaculture, exploring high-value markets, and using the latest research to increase the competitiveness of UK products globally.
SAMS will also promote seaweed production as a means of bioremediation, including the resulting carbon sequestration, therefore mitigating the impacts of climate change.
SAMS director, Professor Nick Owens, said that “using our own seaweed farms and the most up to date research, we have been laying foundations for a thriving UK seaweed farming industry. We are excited to officially open the Seaweed Academy and demonstrate how we can provide a center for training, education and business development. SAMS works internationally on seaweed research, and we are well placed to deliver the most up-to-date advice for start-ups and existing farmers who wish to develop their businesses. Seaweed farming is an industry that can support coastal communities, like the ones we have across the Highlands and Islands while showing others an example of the best of the blue economy.”
To help fully embed the new industry at a community level, SAMS’ Ocean Explorer Centre (OEC) will develop STEM educational outreach materials to raise awareness of seaweed farming, climate change and the importance of net-zero, from primary storytelling to workshops for Higher/A-level curricula, ensuring a holistic approach from primary to PhD level and beyond.
More information here.