The leading question of the SOMOS meeting was: what safety conditions do we need to meet so that seaweed production can be safely and sustainably combined with other types of sustainable use?
SOMOS deals with the future challenges of using our oceans and seas more intensely. It safely seeks the combination of different multi-platform uses such as seaweed production, for example, in combination with wind energy. As demand for marine plant production is rapidly increasing, there is an opportunity to establish good practices for safety in these multiple-use sites. The SOMOS project will develop a framework for good (operational) practices and standards that considers the safety of food, people, and property to assist in developing this co-use of the seas.
Several participants representing the seaweed and aquaculture industry, renewable energy production firms, and NGOs gathered in Wageningen with Lloyd’s Register Foundation representatives and consortium partners, Wageningen University & Research and TNO to discuss the new SOMOS project.
Participants discussed the approach and shared expectations and experiences. Some essential challenges for the future are to guarantee the safety of seaweed production, maritime operations, and cumulative effects in interaction with the socio-economic and the marine environment.
Thanks to the variety of backgrounds and experience in the audience, the meeting laid the ground for potential new connections to get the project off the ground.
An important element of the projects success will be the impact of the project. As Willem de Jong, former Lloyd’s Register Group Manager and now member of the SOMOS Advisory Board stated: “It is essential to reach out to and engage different groups such as the general audience, practitioners, policy makers, and engineers”.
Furthermore, an important area to explore is the safety of the necessary technologies that need to be developed for seaweed production in food and feed.
The project will become successful when it is connected to the wider trends and developments in the food value chain, the maritime value chain, the seaweed value chain, and other blue growth sectors. We need to inform each other about the necessary knowledge required for safe practices and technologies. In the coming month, the project partners will focus on making an integrated inventory of safety risks and discuss this in stakeholder consultations before the summer.