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Scots IMTA project reports first seaweed harvest

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
2 June 2021, at 12:01am

The first crop of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) has been harvested from an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture project in Scotland.

Yvonne Booth and Laura Tulip from Mowi Scotland at the new IMTA site's first kelp harvest
Yvonne Booth and Laura Tulip from Mowi Scotland at the new IMTA site's first kelp harvest

The farm – located at off the island of Scalpay, near Skye – is part of a study involving the University of Stirling, Mowi, local shellfish partners, and sustainable seaweed farming company KelpCrofting. Ultimately, the study intends to determine whether locating a seaweed and shellfish farm near a salmon farm will allow these species to benefit from the organic nutrients produced.

Laura Tulip, an environmental analyst with Mowi Scotland, says: “This is another important milestone at Scalpay. The team at KelpCrofting is pleased with its first harvest and whilst we need a control to scientifically prove that the growth and quality of the seaweed has benefited from the nutrient enrichment from our salmon, the early signs are promising. Later this year, KelpCrofting will install a new kelp farm in the waters of South Pabay. Located away from the salmon farm, this will give us a point of comparison to determine whether the seaweed is directly benefitting from its proximity to salmon.”

KelpCrofting ensures that nothing is wasted from the seaweed, as Kyla Orr, co-founder and scientific director of KelpCrofting, explains: “So far, we have harvested over eight tonnes of food grade sugar kelp from Scalpay. It is evident that the kelp is growing rapidly with each week that passes, and some fronds are nearly two metres long after only four months at sea. We will continue to harvest weekly into June and look forward to seeing how much more this super crop can yield.”

“The kelp being harvested during May and June is part of a collaborative Innovate UK project with Oceanium and Efficiency Technology. After each landing, the batches of high-quality kelp are delivered locally to Kyle of Lochalsh for primary processing (chopping), after which it is transported to Oceanium’s trial biorefinery in Cheshire for further processing into nutritional supplements, plant-based protein and biodegradable packaging.”