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Fish and chips and biodiversity, how seaweed can be a medicine, and Ireland’s underwater forests are among marine topics which will be discussed at the “Pint of Science” global science festival opening next week.

The three-day event opens in 11 Irish towns and cities from Monday, May 13th until Wednesday, May 15th.

Over 130 speakers will talk at 45 events in venues extending from Dublin to Dundalk to Athlone to Mulranny, Co Mayo, and free tickets are already available through its website.

Ailbhe McGurrin, PhD researcher at University College, DublinAilbhe McGurrin, PhD researcher at University College, Dublin

Among the marine experts are Ailbhe McGurrin, PhD researcher at University College, Dublin, who will talk in Slattery’s, Dublin about seaweed’s benefits as a medicine for the future.

Simon Benson, PhD researcher at Trinity College, Dublin, will speak about Ireland’s underwater forests, and Peter Lahiff, masters’ student at Atlantic Technological University, Galway, will address the ecosystem services provided by seaweed aquaculture.

Simon Benson, PhD researcher at Trinity College, DublinSimon Benson, PhD researcher at Trinity College Dublin

Marine Institute participants include Bríd Ó’Connor, who will speak about what to do if your shark lays an egg – as in a scientist’s guide to citizen science.

Bríd O'ConnorBríd O'Connor

Also from the Marine Institute is Julia Calderwood who will discuss fish and chips and biodiversity.

Julia Calderwood Julia Calderwood

The aim of the event is to allow scientists to share their research findings with an audience in a casual setting. Topics addressed by over 100 researchers will cover “everything from anthropology to zoology”, the organisers state.

This year’s Pint of Science will run its first Irish language event and will also provide sign language support.

Pint of Science outreach manager Ciara Varley says that as a registered charity, it is “100% volunteer run and supported by both public and private organisations across Ireland”.

“This year, our team of 65 volunteers comprises students, scientists and science enthusiasts from across Ireland,” she says.

Further details of venues, dates and topics are on the Pint of Science website at

Published in Marine Science
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Irish renewable energy developer Simply Blue has joined a North Sea consortium working on a commercial scale seaweed farm located within an offshore wind farm.

The “North Sea Farm 1 Project” involves ten hectares of water off the Netherlands coast, and is billed as the world’s first commercial scale operation of its type.

It aims to become operational this autumn when it will be deployed and seeded, with first harvest anticipated during Spring of 2025.

The project is sponsored by Amazon’s “Right Now” climate fund, and aims to help address climate action targets in Europe by “tapping into the vast, unmet potential of seaweed cultivation”.

Seaweed absorbs nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, and has been identified as part of the solution to climate change and ocean acidification.

It produces a valuable biomass with a wide range of uses from pharmaceuticals to animal feed to fertilisers.

The project is sponsored by Amazon’s “Right Now” climate fundThe project is sponsored by Amazon’s “Right Now” climate fund

Simply Blue Group says it has a keen interest in multiple use of wind farms, and believes that efficient use of sea space is key to working with the oceans on climate change bringing more local communities and supply chains into the transition to a low carbon economy.

“At Simply Blue Group, we want our marine projects to make a tangible difference, which is why we’re delighted to join this consortium,”Simply Blue chief executive and co-founder, said.

Eef Brouwers, project Manager of the North Sea Farm 1 initiative, welcomed Simply Blue’s involvement and said its expertise in aquaculture and offshore wind "will be valuable in the successful execution of seaweed production in an offshore wind farm for the first time”.

“The North Sea Farm 1 project aims to help the seaweed industry in scaling-up within offshore wind farms and Simply Blue Group’s capabilities in both areas make them an ideal partner,” Brouwers said.

North Sea Farmers (NSF) is an independent and not-for-profit sector organisation for the European seaweed industry. It has a member base of over 100 companies, pioneering start-ups, research institutes, NGOs and other stakeholders.

For North Sea Farm 1, NSF will head up a consortium of partner organisations extending across Europe and involved in the entire seaweed production supply chain.

This includes researchers Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares and Silvestrum Climate Associates, seaweed extract manufacturers Algaia and maritime contractors Van Oord.

Listen to an Afloat podcast on how Seaweed Farming Can Feed The Globe and Capture Carbon

Published in Power From the Sea
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An aquaculture start-up is celebrating the launch of its first seaweed farm in Connemara, as vegan business magazine Vegconomist reports.

US-based Sea&Believe develops ingredients for food and cosmetics using Palmaria palmata, a red seaweed more commonly known as dillisk or dulse and one that’s recognised for its high nutritional value as well as other health benefits.

The company says it is working with a group of scientists in Galway to develop a sustainable and durable farming process for dillisk in a region notably prone to extreme weather, while also exploring new commercial applications for its natural properties.

Vegconomist has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquaculture
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Satellite tracking of “pongy” seaweed and algal build up has been developed by University of Galway scientists.

As The Irish Times reports, local authorities can receive complaints of seaweed accumulation, particularly from Dublin residents who may confuse it with sewage discharge.

Scientists studying the patterns of these “golden tides” – named after the colour of ascophyllum nodosum, one of the most common seaweeds on the Irish coastline - have offered their tracking software to the local authorities to help manage the issue.

The researchers from the School of Natural Sciences and Ryan Institute at the University of Galway have been studying these tides in Dublin over a seven-year period.

Led by Dr Liam Morrison and Dr Sara Harro, the University of Galway team monitored seaweed coverage at Dollymount Strand in Dublin Bay between 2016 and 2022 in relation to tides and weather.

Their BioIntertidal Mapper software analyses images from a European Space Agency satellite to help map habitats along the coastline.

Read more in The Irish Times here


Published in Marine Wildlife
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It is easier to pump oil from the bottom of the ocean than to farm seaweed, according to French oceans advisor Vincent Doumeizel.

Doumeizel, from Burgundy in France, is a senior advisor on the oceans to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, a non-binding pact encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

He is also director of the food programme at the Lloyd’s Register Foundation independent charity and author of “The Seaweed Revolution”, published last year, with illustrations by his daughter Neige.

He says that difficulties in obtaining licenses for seaweed farming are international, and yet the development of seaweed farming is vital to address the needs of the globe’s growing population – and contribute to carbon capture as part of climate breakdown initiatives.

“Seaweed is the healthiest food you can get on the planet”

“I had been working in the food industry for 20 years and began to realise the planet could not feed its growing population, with one billion people starving and an additional 250,000 people to feed daily,” he says.

“For the next 50 years, we are going to have to produce as much food as we ever produced as human beings over the last 10,000 years,” he continues.

“How can we do that? It won’t be possible on land. We have to look to the oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the planet but only contribute to two per cent of our food and calorie supply,” he says.

“Seaweed is the healthiest food you can get on the planet,” Doumeizel said in an interview for Wavelengths.

His book, The Seaweed Revolution, translated by Charlotte Coombe, is published by Legend Press.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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A Kerry company says it uses seaweed as an additive to help crops deal with climate change stresses.

Seaweed has long been known for its fertilising qualities on areas of the Atlantic coastline, and research is currently underway here to test its benefits in animal feed in reducing methane outputs

As The Irish Times reports, BioAtlantis in Tralee, Co Kerry has been working on development of natural compounds, extracted from renewable marine and terrestrial resources, to reduce stress in crops, animals and humans by strengthening natural defence systems.

The company is now marketing a product called SuperFifty Prime to help tackle what it calls “abiotic stress”.

“Some 70 per cent of crop losses are due to abiotic stress such as cold, drought, heat, waterlogging, salinity ….. while ten per cent are due to biotic stress such as plant diseases and pathogens,” BioAtlantis research manager Dr Kieran Guinan told the newspaper.

“Even on well-managed farms with full fertiliser and pesticide programmes, crops only reach around 75 per cent of their genetic potential,” he said.

Dr Sujeeth Neerakkal, who heads up plant research at BioAtlantis, says the product is a “highly innovative oxidative stress inhibitor that works by modulating gene expression and inducing a series of stress tolerance mechanisms”.

The company says the technology helps to “prime” crops and plans to tolerate and respond more efficiently to future stresses and potential damage.

Read The Irish Times here (subscription required)

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Seaweed farming is in its infancy in Ireland, however, a new strategy, BIM Irish Macro-Algal Cultivation Strategy to 2030, published by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) this week sets out a roadmap for the development of a sustainable and profitable Irish seaweed aquaculture sector.

Seaweed is increasingly being viewed as an important sustainable raw material, containing many active substances for use in different industries including, food production, pharma and agriculture. The commercial cultivation of seaweed has increased significantly in the last two decades. Annual global seaweed output is now in excess of 35 million wet tonnes, 97% of which is cultivated biomass. Most of the farmed seaweed is from Asia (China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea & Philippines).

Red seaweed, Dulce, in the hatchery at Pure Ocean Algae, Allihies, West CorkRed seaweed, Dulce, in the hatchery at Pure Ocean Algae, Allihies, West Cork

In referring to the ambitions of the new strategy, Caroline Bocquel, CEO BIM, said: “To ensure a sustainable and economically profitable aquaculture industry in Ireland, the volume of farmed seaweed must increase. This new strategy sets out a roadmap for the seaweed sector to realise its potential. Ireland’s long coastline and clean, cold waters present the ideal conditions to cultivate seaweed, and to sustainably develop this crop that is highly resource efficient, requiring minimal resource input.”

There are currently 25 licenced seaweed farms in Ireland, located along the North West, West and South West coastline Farmed seaweeds are grown on ropes and nets, and are exceptionally fast growing plants.

Michael O’Neill, seaweed farmer, in Allihies, West Cork welcomed the new strategy and spoke of the need to unlock the potential of the seaweed sector in Ireland to meet the growing demand for sustainably produced food.

Pure Ocean Algae, Hatchery, located in rural coastal location of Allihies, West CorkPure Ocean Algae, Hatchery, located in rural coastal location of Allihies, West Cork

“The seaweed industry has the highest potential for growth in the Irish aquaculture sector. Ireland has always been a supplier of high-quality seaweeds for various uses, but there have been limitations, to date, on the scalability of the industry.

The advances in cultivation technology and processing, leaves Ireland extremely well positioned to become a major player in the international seaweed industry, with the demand for seaweed biomass and seaweed-based products outstripping supply for the foreseeable future.

Pure Ocean Algae welcomes the new strategy and looks forward to playing its part in the implementation of the findings of this review.”

Published in BIM
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Seaweed’s role in saving the world from climate change and starvation is the title of a talk today (Friday) in Bantry, Co Cork, as part of National Biodiversity Week.

The talk by Dr Julie Maguire is one of a number of marine events in the National Biodiversity Week programme published yesterday.

Dr Maguire is research director of the Bantry Marine Research Station, and has managed the station since 2005.

She was awarded the Copernicus Masters Award from the European Space Agency for “Best service for European citizens”.

Her talk takes place at 4 pm today, Friday, May 19th, in The StreamSchool’, Coomhola, Bantry, Co. Cork P75 TY47

It is being hosted by StreamScapes in cooperation with Seabed Sanctuary Collective.

As numbers attending are restricted, advance booking is advised by contacting tel 027 50453 or emailing [email protected]

Liam McWatt from Dingle Oceanworld hosts a rock pooling adventure on Ventry Beach, Dingle, Co Kerry, on Saturday at 11am, also as part of the programme.

Participants should bring nets and buckets and meet at Ventry Beach car park at 10 am.

Children should be accompanied by an adult at this event.

More details of the National Biodiversity Week programme are here

Published in Marine Science
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As part of Seaweed Around the Clock 2022 the Marine Institute, in collaboration with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Irish Seaweed Consultancy and Nua na Mara, will showcase the Irish seaweed sector: 'Ireland's Seaweed Success – Expertise, Innovation and Opportunity' on Thursday 2nd June 2022 at 3 pm (GMT).

This is the second edition of the largest global seaweed event with the aim of uniting people and businesses to raise awareness and showcase innovations for the growing industry. Seaweed Around the Clock will include stakeholders from across the globe and includes live debates, keynotes and more.

Anyone interested in exploring the world of seaweed is encouraged to register for the event here. Registration provides free access to both live sessions and exhibits on an online platform.

A virtual booth (sponsored by the Marine Institute, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and the Marine) has been set up to highlight Irish seaweed entrepreneurs and researchers. Drop in and get to know some of the innovative companies and researchers that are working in Ireland and across the globe.

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As Cop26 continues to debate methane – with the US And EU having pledged to reduce agricultural methane outputs from ruminant livestock by upwards of 30% by 2030 – scientists at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast are to feed seaweed to farm animals in a bid to slash methane by at least 30%.

Seaweed has long been hailed a ‘superfood’ for humans but adding it to animal feed to reduce methane gas released into the atmosphere by ruminants' burping and flatulence is a relatively new idea. Early laboratory research at IGFS has shown promising results using native Irish and UK seaweeds.

Previous research in Australia and the USA generated headline results – up to 80% reductions in methane emissions from cattle given supplements from a red seaweed variety. These red seaweeds grow abundantly in warmer climates; however, they also contain high levels of bromoform – known to be damaging to the ozone layer. Seaweed indigenous to the UK and Ireland tends to be brown or green and does not contain bromoform.

UK and Irish seaweeds are also rich in active compounds called phlorotannins, found in red wine and berries, which are anti-bacterial and improve immunity so could have additional health benefits for animals.

Harvesting seaweed research samples at Queen’s University Marine Lab in Portaferry, Co. DownHarvesting seaweed research samples at Queen’s University Marine Lab in Portaferry, Co. Down

Now the IGFS science is moving into the field, with trials on UK farms about to begin, using seaweed sourced from the Irish and North Seas as a feed supplement for cattle.

One 3-year project is in partnership with the UK supermarket Morrisons and its network of British beef farmers who will facilitate farm trials. The project also includes the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), in Northern Ireland, as a partner.

A second project sees IGFS and AFBI join a €2million, international project - led by Irish agency An Teagasc - to monitor the effects of seaweed in the diet of pasture-based livestock. Seaweed will be added to grass-based silage on farm trials involving dairy cows in NI from early 2022.

As well as assessing methane emissions of the beef and dairy cattle, these projects will assess the nutritional value of a variety of homegrown seaweeds, their effects on animal productivity and meat quality.

IGFS lead Sharon Huws, Professor of Animal Science and Microbiology within the School of Biological Sciences, said she expected the combined research to evidence a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 30%.

She said: “The science is there. It’s simply a matter of providing the necessary data and then implementing it. Using seaweed is a natural, sustainable way of reducing emissions and has great potential to be scaled up. There is no reason why we can’t be farming seaweed – this would also protect the biodiversity of our shorelines.

“If UK farmers are to meet a zero-carbon model, we really need to start putting this kind of research into practice. I hope IGFS and AFBI research can soon provide the necessary data and reassurance for governments to take forward.”

Agriculture accounts for around 10% of all UK GHG emissions. Within this, beef farming is the most carbon-intensive, with methane, which cows produce as they digest, a major component. At a NI level, methane accounts for almost a quarter of GHG emissions, with 80% of that from agriculture.

The above projects form part of the Queen's-AFBI Alliance – a strategic partnership between Queen’s University and AFBI to maximise science and innovation capacity in NI to meet global challenges, such as carbon-neutral farming.

Morrisons supermarket plans to be completely supplied by net-zero-carbon British farms by 2030. Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons said: “As British farming's biggest customer, we’re very mindful of our role in supporting and inspiring the farmers we work with to help them achieve goals in sustainable farming.

“By supporting this research at Queen’s and AFBI, we are trialling this natural approach to reducing environmental emissions and improving the quality of beef products.”

Published in Marine Science
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