Since 2008 BIM has worked on the development of the Irish farmed seaweed sector to include the leasing of a licensed marine hatchery and the funding of the production of seeded collector string (brown weeds Alaria esculenta and Saccharina latissima) for deployment at licensed marine seaweed sites.
More recently we have looked at the production of red weeds (Porphyra umbilicalis and Palmaria palmata) in the hatchery both by manipulation of sexual and asexual plants (Porphyra) and by vegetative tank culture (Palmaria) to increase production. The hatchery has supplied to the licensed sea sites on an annual basis and this demand is set to rise as more seaweed licenses are issued.
The Seaweed Development Programme 2019 aimed to produce 10 kms seeded collector string plus culture to seed 40 kms string for Alaria.
In addition, work was carried out on the above named red weeds. Investigative field work started in February 2019 to identify, locate and map asexual Porphyra umbilicalis plants. Neutral spore release was enabled with settlement on nets for culture at sea. Work on sexual plants was carried out to initiate sporulation and development of the conchocelis stage of the life cycle. Palmaria palmata was vegetatively grown in tanks to ascertain optimal growth conditions.
10 kms seeded collector string will be put to sea in 2019 at licensed sites from this project, with potentially a further 40 kms to be produced by industry, depending on an increase in hatchery production capability.
This will result in potentially 500T fresh weight seaweed production at sea subject to optimal deployment and weather in 2020.
It is anticipated that the pre-commercial work on the red weeds will result in greater understanding of the growth requirements for Porphyra and Palmaria with a view to commercialising the production of these valuable species.
Harvest of 50T dry Alaria esculenta in 2020.
Palmaria tank trials completed / commercial feasibility of tank based Palmaria established.
10 kms of seeded Alaria produced from hatchery along with spores for industry production.
Industry commit to producing 40 kms of seeded ‘Alaria-String’.
New stock of asexual Porphyra collected and tank/sea trials undertaken in respect of Porphyra.
The Farmed Seaweed project is funded through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme which is established under Union Priority 2 of Ireland’s Operational Programme under the EMFF and is co-funded by the Irish Government and the EU.
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