Graphic: Could Norfolk and Suffolk’s coast become home to the seaweed farming industry?
PUBLISHED: 11:57 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:57 28 March 2014
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It may not be your traditional type of farm but plans are being put in place to see East Anglia’s first seaweed one created off our coastline.
It comes following yesterday’s conference which saw some of the world’s finest seaweed specialists join forces to see how this vision could be brought to life.
Held at the King’s Centre, in Norwich city centre, and entitled Growing a Seaweed Economy in East Anglia the event saw experts travel from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and many parts of England, as well as from the Netherlands.
Speaking at the event, Phil Bennett-Lloyd, climate change manager at Norfolk County Council, explained that there was huge environmental benefits in creating a seaweed farm.
“Seaweed is something that people don’t talk about much in terms of the future but it is potentially very big business,” he said. “And we think East Anglia is a little bit ahead of the game.”
Organised by NCC, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the North Sea Marine Cluster, the event explored the prospects of marine biomass farming off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.
A number of speakers discussed the issues and development of the plans while attendees were invited to focus on three key areas; Location and operation of a sea trial, creating a sustainable supply chain and routes to market and regulation, policy, economic and intellectual property. The possibility of EU funding was also explored.
Seaweed farms have already been developed in China and in Scandinavia, where it was introduced alongside offshore wind farms, and so far research has gone into the viability of developing a large-scale seaweed-based industry within the Southern North Sea.
It is hoped that it could be achieved by using existing marine industries and the growing potential of new offshore activities and would involve the production of kelp seaweed which has high-value uses as a food ingredient, a product in the pharmaceutical industry and has the potential for use in animal feed and bio-energy.
The event also featured a keynote speech from Waveney MP Peter Aldous and a seaweed themed lunch.
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