The fledgling UK seaweed farming industry has taken a major step forward with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) receiving funding to develop training and business development for the sector. The £407,000 grant from the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund is one of 56 projects across Scotland to share an £18m investment to help people find work and deliver net zero carbon.
The Seaweed Academy, which will be based at SAMS, near Oban, will be the UK’s first dedicated seaweed industry facility, offering advice to start-ups, training workers, and sharing the latest research to help businesses develop. The intention of the academy is to catalyse growth of an industry that has a crucial role to play in the UK’s net zero, regional growth, and levelling up aspirations. It will provide an innovative service to the sector, from seeded line through to research and practical skills at SAMS’ existing seaweed farm sites.
“Using our own seaweed farms and the most up to date research, we have been laying foundations for a thriving UK seaweed farming industry,” said SAMS Director Professor Nick Owens. “We are excited to now move into the next phase of training, education and business development. SAMS works internationally on seaweed research, and we are well placed to deliver the most up-to-date advice for start-ups and existing farmers who wish to develop their business.”
Partnership between SAMS and Argyll College
The Seaweed Academy will be operated by SAMS, in partnership with SAMS Enterprise and Argyll College, a fellow academic partner within the University of the Highlands and Islands. The partners intend to stimulate the growth of UK seaweed aquaculture, explore high-value markets, and use the latest research to increase the competitiveness of UK products globally. SAMS will also promote seaweed production as a means of bioremediation, including the resulting carbon sequestration, mitigating the impacts of climate change.
To help fully embed the new industry at a community level, SAMS’ Ocean Explorer Centre (OEC) will develop STEM educational outreach materials. These will raise awareness of seaweed farming, climate change and the importance of net zero — from storytelling to workshops for Higher/A-level curricula — providing a holistic approach from primary to PhD level and beyond.
“We are grateful to the UK Government for its investment in this climate-friendly industry that will not only support the regional economy of the Highlands and Islands but will show others an example of the best of the blue economy,” said Professor Owens.
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