In the search for healthy, sustainable food, seaweed gets increasing attention. Wageningen Marine Research investigates how seaweed farmers can increase production in an ecologically responsible way, for example around wind farms.
The possibilities of seaweed seem endless: as a hip new ingredient on our menu, as protein-rich cattle and fish feed, or as a sustainable raw material for bioplastic and fuel.
400 square kilometres
It is therefore not surprising that consumers and governments are increasingly familiarising themselves with seaweed. The North Sea Area Agenda 2050 even mentions 400 square kilometres of sustainable seaweed cultivation.
Before that happens, more research must first be done. The large-scale cultivation of seaweed is still in its infancy, says Henrice Jansen of Wageningen Marine Research. She is researching how production can be increased as sustainably as possible: “It is perfectly possible to grow seaweed on a large scale in the North Sea, but we must look carefully at the impact on the ecosystem. For example, it could be a breeding ground for all kinds of fish, but it could also attract invasive exotic species. ”
Sustainable food and renewable energy
Jansen often comes across the combination of aquaculture and wind farms in her research. Wind farms have a lot of potential as farming locations for seaweed, as hardly any ships travel between two wind farms, leaving space for aquaculture. Seaweed is often mentioned in policy documents as one of the most important multi-use applications of offshore wind turbines. Possibly, sustainable food and renewable energy will soon be very close to each other in the North Sea.
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The Noordzeeboerderij (North Sea Farm) is committed to developing a sustainable seaweed sector and is working with Wageningen University & Research on various projects.