Seaweed farms - the next logical step in food security
As countries try to reduce their carbon emissions one of the worst polluters is cattle farming. So alternative sources of nutrients would be a welcome addition to our diet. Although, seaweed sandwiches still don’t sound that appetising, that could all be about to change.
Image: North Sea Foundation (Stichting Noordzeeboerderij)
After several months trying out its techniques in a test farm off the island of Texel, the North Sea Foundation has now been given permission to start new trials 15 kilometers off the Dutch coast at seaside resort Scheveningen. The aim of this sea farm is to test growing seaweed among offshore windmills.
Seaweed is healthy and tasty. It is grown in the blue-green economy from renewable, local, sustainable sources. It can be grown both on and offshore. It can be used a flavouring in soups, garnish in salads and as a raw material for bioplastics and textiles.
Seaweed production does not require fresh water, farmland or fertilizer. It can be grown locally and it offers new opportunities for the economy adding to our food security. Seaweed converts greenhouse CO2 into biomass and oxygen, which counteracts oceanic acidification and climate change. Inadvertently seaweed farms acts as a nursery for young fish and shellfish. And seaweed farms can also be combined with offshore wind farms.
The foundation has set up the Seaweed Platform where coalitions between businesses, government and research organisations can realise a regional seaweed economy. Fifty organisations have already joined so that oceans become a sustainable source of local food and biobased applications.
Worldwide there are 10,000 species of seaweed, depending on the depth of the water and the amount of light they receive. These species can be divided into three sorts green, brown and red seaweed. In the Netherlands, The Dutch Weedburger company has already developed a tasty snack which is sold at festivals and hip restaurants.
According to the North Sea Foundation: “The Netherlands has a good reputation to maintain when it comes to production, processing and logistics of food and raw materials. We are also world famous for our Delta works. Seaweed farms at sea are a logical next step.”