SOMOS: Safe production of marine plants and use of Ocean Space

Project

SOMOS: Technical Standards for Safe Production of Food and Feed from marine plants and Safe Use of Ocean Space

Somos, a study into safety at sea is taking off as part of a partnership between Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Wageningen University & Research and TNO. Half a million pounds is the amount scientists have at their disposal to investigate safety aspects of combined activities at sea. The focus in SOMOS is on renewable energy production in combination with seaweed, used not only food but also feed, bio-chemicals, energy and other valuable products. The grant is awarded by the UK-based Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which wants to contribute to the enhancement of resilient marine resources for tomorrow’s world population.

The goal is to develop a meaningful safety assessment and safety control to stimulate the production of energy and food at sea. There are five objectives;

  • Demonstrate that multiple economic activities can take place at sea in a sufficiently safe fashion,
  • Establish a method for assessing the safety of multiple economic activities at sea,
  • Identify tools which must be used to carry out the analyses and assessments required to ensure an acceptable safety level ,
  • Provide a proof of principle, based on demonstrators, of safe use of sea for combined seaweed  and energy production.
  • Create capacity in the marine and maritime community of policy makers, certifiers and operators and initiate a public debate on this issue of safety of multiple uses of marine space with all the stakeholders: politicians, financiers, businesses, operators, legal representatives and societal groups.

About SOMOS

Framework for a safety assessment

The project was purposefully set up to be multidisciplinary, as economic, environmental, marine, social and food aspects of safety need to be addressed to develop a comprehensive framework for a safety assessment of this combination of activities at sea. As we are using our oceans and seas more intensively, can different types of use be sustainably integrated in order to have a true multiple and safe use of our sea space? In the SOMOS project, a framework will be developed that will assist in developing this co-use of the seas, integrating different uses such as renewable energy production and novel food and feed production from seaweed, in a safe way by developing standards and safe operational practices. In this way, the project will address the global challenges of producing food, energy and efficient use of our waters to cater for the needs of the world population of 2050.

The safety aspect in the project concerns feed and food safety hazards of marine production, safety of people and property at sea, marine interactions such as competition between alternative uses and cumulative effects such as pollution. Safety is at the core of Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s mission, and they want to enhance the development of safety standards and regulations on food within the maritime field.

Find multi-use solutions

The project will deepen its understanding by means of a practical case study in which multi-use and safety aspects will be examined. The North Sea is one of the most crowded seas in the world and as such faces the challenge to find multi-use solutions. Moreover, different parties such as government and industry consider offshore production of seaweed a promising commercial activity in this area where many offshore wind farms are built: a clear opportunity for multi-use.

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation has been strongly involved in the development of the project with Wageningen University & Research and TNO and will continue to provide feedback, as Vincent Doumeizel, Vice President Food, Beverage & Sustainability of the LR Group, will help steer the project by joining its Advisory Board. He comments: “This is the first project targeted at the food sector to be funded by the foundation, and I am honoured to be joining the advisory board. The current reliance on meat and soya has a significant impact on the environment and will become unsustainable as diets become richer. Marine plants could be a sustainable source of protein, fresh water and energy for the growing global population. It is exciting to be involved in research into viable alternatives.”

Public understanding and impact

The public understanding and impact of the project is of utmost importance to the funding body as well as all researchers in the project. The aim is to translate vision into practical solutions. The project will deliver a practical framework with standards and skills as well as a set of so-called ‘recommended practices’. The framework will be developed in co-production with relevant authorities, certifiers and operators. This is done in order to enhance education and skills development within this growing community including, of course, engineers and scientists themselves.

Summary

Work Package 1: Safety of Marine Food and Feed Ingredients

Objective

Safety of Marine Food and Feed Ingredients aims to acquire detailed knowledge on the possible food safety hazards of marine food and feed ingredient production, their likelihood of occurrence and proper ways to control them. The activity focuses on identifying relevant feed/food safety hazards with marine production, including pathogenic micro-organisms, chemical contaminants and physical hazards, as well as potential control options for the identified safety issues. It identifies which public and private standards for food and feed safety are relevant for marine production in multi-use settings, evaluates the applicability of these standards based on both state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and a case-study, and proposes adapted or new standards where needed.

Output

Work Package 2: Safety of people and property in multi-use of maritime locations

Objective

Safety of people and property in multi-use of maritime locations aims at demonstrating that using specific locations at sea for various activities simultaneously can be done in a sufficiently safe fashion with respect to people and property. The recommended practice on a safe approach towards the multi-use of oceans’ and marine space will cover both design/manufacturing and operations. The formulation will be fit for use by regulatory bodies, e.g. IMO. This Work Package focuses on site specific issues.

Output

Work Package 3: Safety aspects of Marine Interactions and Cumulative Effects

Objective

A meaningful safety assessment and controlling safety of multiple simultaneous activities at a shared location at sea should be possible. The proposed action will devise the necessary tools for this, test the tools and build capacity among policymakers, certifiers and operators to use the tools to increase safety at sea.

Output

Work Package 4: Framework for safety assessment for safe production of marine food and feed and safe use of Ocean Space

Objective

This work package aims to develop a generic method for safety assessment for multiple usages of the sea. It is about generalising the safety assessment methods pertinent to dedicated domains, such as in this project, location fixed offshore food/ feed production and maritime operations. When successful, results from the domain dedicated safety considerations can be brought together and assessed simultaneously with a balanced weighting of the importance and vulnerability of each domain. Moreover domain dedicated safety assessors will be able to take parameters into account from other domains which are relevant to their domain, in this way tackling the identified interactions. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a common risk denominator shared by the various domains involved. Although there is an ambition to be generic, there will still remain a large degree of domain restriction i.e. location bound maritime activity.

Output

Work Package 5: Outreach, communication and Training

Objective

This work package aims to develop a generic method for safety assessment for multiple usages of the sea. It is about generalising the safety assessment methods pertinent to dedicated domains, such as in this project, location fixed offshore food/ feed production and maritime operations. When successful, results from the domain dedicated safety considerations can be brought together and assessed simultaneously with a balanced weighting of the importance and vulnerability of each domain. Moreover domain dedicated safety assessors will be able to take parameters into account from other domains which are relevant to their domain, in this way tackling the identified interactions. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a common risk denominator shared by the various domains involved. Although there is an ambition to be generic, there will still remain a large degree of domain restriction i.e. location bound maritime activity.

Output

Other output: see 'Workshops' and 'News'

Workshops

In a well-attended workshop in IJmuiden, on the 19th and 20th of June, with over 20 participants, the  first results of the SOMOS project were presented to external experts and representatives of organisations interested in safety aspects of multi-use offshore, such as the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI, Bremerhaven), Allseas, Chris Westra Consulting, Lloyd’s Register Group, the Maritime Institute (Gdansk), NoordzeeBoerderij,  Rijkswaterstaat, Shell/NoordzeeWind.
In a well-attended workshop in IJmuiden, on the 19th and 20th of June, with over 20 participants, the first results of the SOMOS project were presented to external experts and representatives of organisations interested in safety aspects of multi-use offshore, such as the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI, Bremerhaven), Allseas, Chris Westra Consulting, Lloyd’s Register Group, the Maritime Institute (Gdansk), NoordzeeBoerderij, Rijkswaterstaat, Shell/NoordzeeWind.

News