A new report outlining future options for Scotland’s nascent seaweed industry has recommended ‘strong legislation’ around planning and licensing the sector, to ensure its expansion is sustainable.
The global seaweed industry is currently estimated at 8.1 billion euros per year, with Asia dominating the cultured seaweed industry. Popular as a cooking ingredient in many cultures, seaweed is also used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
In Scotland, the sector generates an estimated gross value added of £510,000 and employs around 60 people, with small craft-style businesses dominating the domestic sector. However, it is expected to increase significantly by 2040, and its sustainability is in the spotlight, with the harvesting of some species of kelp already banned.
The sector mapping exercise was undertaken by the Seaweed Review Steering Group, an organization made up of representatives from the fisheries, conservation, science, biotechnology and seaweed industry sectors.
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Welcoming her report, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “There is a long history of seaweed harvesting in Scotland and growing interest in the sector supports our decision to include seaweed in the part of the first stage of Professor Griggs’ review of aquaculture which was published earlier this month.
“Other work, including the new Seafood Strategy to be released later this year, underscores our commitment to ensuring that existing and emerging seaweed activities fit within our broader framework for managing seaweed. multiple uses of the sea, including fishing and renewable energy.”