Development of Seaweed Cultivation Activities content

Development of Seaweed Cultivation Activities

The Shetland Seaweed Growers project was funded by over £300,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund and undertaken at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, Shetland from June 2014 to December 2016.  The project explored whether growing seaweed on a commercial scale is a feasible option within Shetland, in order to create jobs, generate income for the community and present new business opportunities for Shetland companies. Other aims of Shetland Seaweed Growers included supporting local businesses to incorporate seaweed in their products and to increase public awareness of seaweeds, their ecology and their uses. This project was compliant with State Aid rules.

Scottish Sea Farms Ltd. was a commercial partner in the project and generously provided a six-hectare licensed sea-site for growing seaweed at Sandsound South in Shetland. They also provided use of a work-boat, skipper and crew to help set up the necessary longlines; sea-deploy the hatchery-grown seedlings, and harvest and sample the resulting seaweed crop.

East Voe Shellfish Ltd. were industry associates of the project who were contracted to carry out the same tasks listed above on a second seaweed sea-site at Lea of Trondra, Shetland that is owned by the NAFC Marine Centre.

Grieg Seafoods Ltd. kindly donated several drying/smoking racks to the project to allow the NAFC Marine Centre to dry bulk quantities of seaweed.

The project was very successful and we produced a Seaweed Cultivation Manual to transfer knowledge of seaweed-related opportunities to interested parties. This gives details of the background to the project, seaweed life-cycles and biology, hatchery cultivation of seaweed seedlings, sea-site selection and permissions, farming seaweed at sea and the preliminary conclusions from the project trials.

Papers and presentations resulting from the project include: The potential for kelp production in Shetland and Regrowth and biofouling in two species of cultivated kelp in the Shetland Islands.

In addition to allowing two Shetland aquaculture companies to work alongside the NAFC Marine Centre to trial the various techniques and methodologies required for seaweed farming, the Shetland Seaweed Growers project succeeded in encouraging nine other local Shetland businesses to diversify by incorporating seaweed (both cultivated and wild-harvested) into their products.