Meeting in person for the first time in two years, Seagriculture EU 2022 attracted 137 delegates from 18 countries to Bremerhaven, Germany, to discuss the latest developments in the seaweed industry. Organized by DLG BENELUX, a subsidiary of DLG International in the Netherlands, the conference featured more than 30 speakers with topics ranging from raw material availability to competition for land, to new eating habits affecting both the agriculture and the food industries.
This eleventh edition of the Seagriculture Conference focused thematically on the cultivation of marine algae and the implementation of new innovative approaches. Keynote speakers were Prof. Dr. Bela H. Buck, marine biologist and head of the Marine Aquaculture Department at the Alfred Wegener Institute, and Paul Dobbins, Senior Director of Impact Investing at the World Wildlife Fund. Conference partners were the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and BIS Bremerhavener Gesellschaft für Investitionsförderung und Stadtentwicklung mbH.
Among the presentation highlights, Alexander Ebbing of Hortimare, Adrian Macleod of SAMS, Gediminas Tamošaitis of Metal Production, and Urd Grandorf Bak of Ocean Rainforest addressed seaweed farming on large and small scales and presented new sustainable solutions.
In response to the common questions: How big is the European seaweed industry? Where can buyers and sellers meet? What about certification? Patricia Bianchi from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Jean-Baptiste Wallaert, founder of the seaweed marketplace “Place des algues,” elucidated the answers.
The two also discussed the ASC-MSC Algae Standard — a science-based environmental and social standard for responsible algae production. Applying the standard offers a way to confirm sustainability by using a credible, independent third-party assessment process. It allows sustainable and responsible operations to be recognized and rewarded in the marketplace, giving an assurance to consumers that their algae (or by-products derived from them) come from a well-managed and sustainable source.
Dr. Yu-Hsiang Weng, Dr. Anna Fricke, and Dr. Laurie Hofmann found new approaches to growing seaweed. Their series of presentations provided information on growing macroalgae in cities, using cold seawater, and sustainable packaging solutions. Addressing ecology and job creation, Mar Fernandez-Mendez of Seafields and AWI reported on artificial upwelling, while Ferdi Knoester and Okke Meijer of Kelp Blue looked at local communities.
Several other seaweed projects were introduced or updated. Johan Robbens of ILVO presented the “ValgOrize” project, which focuses on producing algae biomass with optimal flavor. Jaap van Hal from TNO spoke about the “AlgaeDemo” project, featuring advanced, mechanized algae cultivation on a hectare scale, remote monitoring with AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles).
Finn Lillelund Aachmann examined the technology used by Norwegian research institutions to process seaweed. David Aldridge of Seaweed Solutions spoke about improving seaweed growth with novel substrates.
This years’ Innovation Awards were presented to:
- Gold: Dr. Sophie Steinhagen, from the University of Gothenburg — Tjärnö Marine Laboratory, for her application on Off-Shore-Ulva.
- Silver: Alexander Ebbing, from NIOZ, for his SeaCoRe system innovation, which introduces a new automatable way of delayed kelp gametophyte propagation.
- Bronze: Rhianna Rees, from SAMS Enterprise, for her work on The Seaweed Academy.
The Awards were sponsored by North Sea Farmers, an international non-profit membership organization for the seaweed sector, consisting of approximately one hundred members and partners. Innovation Awards were open to all European companies, individuals, research institutes and other organizations involved in seaweed innovation.
“After two online editions, Seagriculture EU 2022 brought together the seaweed community in Europe and beyond, in a great atmosphere, to discuss and exchange information on current seaweed topics,” said Kuno Jacobs, Managing Director of DLG BENELUX. “This in-person edition of Seagriculture once again underlined the power of meeting face-to-face.”
The next Seagriculture will take place September 7-8, 2022, in Portland, Maine, USA. The next European edition of Seagriculture EU will take place June 21-22, 2023, in Trondheim, Norway.
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