Innovations for Seaweed Producers in the Northern Periphery Area

The cool, clear and clean waters of the North Atlantic allows seaweed to grow, alt=flourish and thrive. Our pristine shoreline supports an ideal and sustainable environment which yields seaweed packed with minerals, antioxidants and a vast range of nutrients.

Seaweed contains many health benefits for humans and animals, acts as a fantastic fertilizer and are used as biostimulants- protecting plants against biotic and abiotic stresses.

Although seaweed has many benefits, much of the region is experiencing challenges. Increased costs of transportation, extensive drying time, and competition from Asian nations has led to the development of this project.

This project aims to identify common issues throughout the Region and give access to high-level R&D links within academic partners across regional and national borders to pilot solutions that can be adopted throughout the industry – thus developing solutions that enable technology transfer across the Programme area – in particular benefiting SMEs. This will result in higher levels of innovation and competitiveness in remote and sparsely populated areas by transfer and development of models and solutions that facilitate technology transfer to, and across, the Programme area.

The main result of this project will be the establishment of a “brand” of excellence for seaweed across the NPA region demonstrating that seaweed from the area is high quality, consistent and sustainable.

Work packages

By focusing on the development of local and regional supply chains it is hoped that a reduction on environmental impacts associated with logistics, storage and transport will occur. Similarly, better processing techniques, particularly the energy intensive drying process to generate processes, will make processing more efficient. Furthermore, increasing the value of the product through more effective branding and knowledge sharing, economic benefits can be achieved without significantly increasing the quantity of raw material extracted.

 

Through knowledge exchange, the project will provide opportunities for innovation in areas such as seaweed cultivation. By developing cultivation, rather than wild harvesting, the period of economic activity can be lengthened to make employment more attractive and removing the seasonal nature of employment. Opportunities to cultivate palmaria palmate, or commonly known dulse will be explored alongside best practise techniques to cultivate saccharina latissima.

 

Creation of a DNA database of seaweed across the NPA region will allow for tracability and proven provennance of the seaweed. The aim of the activity is to generate a genetic testing kit destined for farmers and wholesalers of seaweed products to test for the provenance of the biological material. Demonstrating the provenance of seaweeds in commercial products from the NPA area will allow for the creation of a certified label to

  • ensure end users with the origin of the seaweed and
  • increase sales and public acceptancy

 

Armed with sustainably sourced seaweed that has confirmed origin within the NPA region, a “brand” of NPA seaweed can be obtained. This final work package is the Creation of an NPA brand of seaweed that stands for sustainably sourced, high quality and origin approved seaweed which farmers, harvesters or businesses can apply for. It is envisaged that this brand will be internationally recognised and will allow for small enterprises to compete on a larger scale.

Name: Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen

Position: Professor, Arctic Technology Centre, Sisimiut Campus, Technical University of Denmark

What you will be doing in the project: My research lab looks at the quantitative microbial ecology in relation to how best to treat foods to achieve the optimum shelf-life and safety of the products. Seaweed is particularly interesting as little is known about the sensory, chemical and microbial quality changes in the different edible species from Greenland and elsewhere in the NPA region. We will look at these changes in fresh, dried and fermented seaweed from the area.

Your favourite thing about seaweed? My favourite is to experiment with new ways of using seaweed in cooking. I mean why not using sugar kelp in cookies?

 

Name: Dr. Agnes Mols Mortensen

Position: Owner and director of TARI – Faroe Seaweed

What you will be doing in the project: In SW-Grow TARI-Faroe Seaweed will be cultivating the brown algal species Alaria esculenta and the red algal species Palmaria palmata. We will work on optimizing the quality of the produce by analysing microbiology in the seaweed tissue and also in the surrounding seawater. The seaweed tissue will be analysed for a wide variety of compounds including protein levels, vitamins, minerals, heavy metals, and bioactivity. TARI-Faroe Seaweed will take part in creating a DNA database by collecting samples from our seaweed farm and from natural populations in the Faroe Islands. One of the pilots in SW-Grow will be carried out in the Faroe Islands, and we will test if TARI-Faroe Seaweed’s hatchery can be run on renewable energy alone.

Your favourite thing about seaweed? I am very interested in seaweed species diversity. I like growing seaweeds and experimenting with different cultivation techniques. Cooking with seaweed has become an integrated part of my daily life, and I like eating seaweeds and giving it to my children because it is healthy and nutritious.

Name: Roy Bartle

Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Lews Castle College

What I will be doing in the project: By background I am a thermofludicist, which is a fancy way of saying that I’m interested in how heat and fluids move and interact with each other. I have spent quite a few years creating and watching gas bubbles! For SW-GROW, I have designed an experimental seaweed drying facility and will be investigating how to dry seaweed efficiently using renewable energies whilst also achieving product quality for the many different uses of seaweed.

Favourite thing about seaweed: Working on the puzzle that is effective seaweed drying – perhaps followed by a Seaweed Scotchtail

 

Name: Andrew Mackenzie

Position: Engineering Lecturer at Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands.

What you will be doing in the project: Project Managing the Project, arranging meetings, managing risk and contributing to the engineering aspects.

Your favourite thing about seaweed? Its versatility – food, medicine, cosmetics, fertiliser etc.

Name: Cliodhna Ní Ghriofa

Position: Project Officer, Údarás na Gaeltachta

What you will be doing in the project: I will be managing the communication and dissemination of the project, alongside assisting some associate partners or SME’s in the seaweed sector here in Ireland.

Your favourite thing about seaweed? I used to avoid seaweed at all costs when swimming in the sea, as I feared all the creatures hiding in the sea forest! However, now I can appreciate the habitat that seaweed gives to many sea creatures. I love the versatility of seaweed, and how it does not taste too strongly when added to cooked meals and gives a fantastic umami flavour. The health benefits of seaweed is one of my favourite things, from heart health, reducing cancer risk and packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals- we should all be consuming more seaweed in our diet!