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Displaying items by tag: Seaweed

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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Marine biotech company Brandon Bioscience has won an Enterprise Ireland award for a new product that draws extracts from common brown seaweed.

The extract can be used as a crop "bio-stimulant" in fertiliser, which has the potential to reduce chemical nitrogen input on farms by up to 20 per cent.

Brandon Bioscience is working with traditional fertiliser manufacturer Target Fertilisers on the product, which won this year's overall Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Award.

The awards for the most innovative Irish agritech and agri-engineering products were announced today by Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English.

The best overall start-up award has been given to Jennifer and Kevin Corley, founders of EquiTrace which is an app that works with a horse’s microchip to identify, locate and track individual animals as they move while also recording animal temperature and health records.

The awards are normally given at the National Ploughing Championships. This year’s competition was moved online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of the pandemic.

More than 50 entries were received for this year’s contest, with 28 selected for virtual pitching, according to Enterprise Ireland.

Published in Marine Science
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Hand-harvesting seaweed on the Irish Atlantic coast experienced an unexpected boost due to Covid-19, according to Canadian-owned seaweed company Arramara Teo.

Construction workers with coastal connections opted to supplement incomes on the shoreline, and there are now large quantities in storage, Arramara’s Europe director Jim Keogh has said.

The Connemara-based company plans to make a “significant” investment in upgrading its existing seaweed processing plant in Cill Chiaráín, Co Galway, Mr Keogh confirmed on Monday. 

This will allow it to handle other types of seaweed for the health food and other markets, he said.

The investment to a “food grade” plant, believed to be under 0.5 million euro, will be funded through Arramara’s own resources. 

Among the main species targeted will be Fucus vesiculosus or bladderwrack, a brown seaweed rich in iodine.

It grows alongside Ascophyllum nodosum or “feamainn bhuí” which harvesters currently supply for use in fertiliser and animal feed.

“Fucus vesiculosus grows back quicker than the Ascophyllum, which will give harvesters more options,” Mr Keogh said. 

The company would also look at the potential of other inter-tidal species, such as dulse and carrageen, he said. 

The company will be able to avail of international markets through Acadian’s extensive global network, Mr Keogh said.

Currently, harvesters are paid €55 a tonne for Ascophyllum nodosum.

Some 50 per cent of the Cill Chiaráin plant’s stock is sold on the domestic market, and 50 per cent goes for export, Mr Keogh said.

He confirmed there were large quantities still in storage due to this year’s bumper harvest, but this was a “normal” part of the cycle, he said.

The company, which employs 24 people directly, is currently on a three-day working week.

Arramara Teo, formerly State-owned, was founded in 1947 and was purchased by Canadian multinational Acadian Seaplants six years ago.

The planned upgrade at the Cill Chiaráin plant will take about four weeks and will begin February, Mr Keogh said.

“ This investment is one of the founding pieces in the planned operational expansion of Arramara Teo, which will have far-reaching economic benefits within the local community and west coast of Ireland,” he said.

Published in Aquaculture
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Three Irish consortiums have been awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts by the Marine Institute and Enterprise Ireland to develop Ireland’s intertidal seaweed resource.

The Phase 1 ‘Challenge’ contracts will run over four months, and will involve scientific observations by satellite, drone and light aircraft to produce accurate estimates of seaweed distribution and biomass, and improve our understanding of Ireland’s coastal marine habitat and ecosystems.

Successful projects may then proceed to scaled-up demonstrations and wider regional resource mapping during 2021.

The move is in response to increasing demand at home and abroad for seaweed and seaweed-based products — from fertilisers and animal feed to cosmetics, medicines and food.

It is estimated that 32 countries actively harvest over 800,000 tonnes from wild stocks and natural beds annually. And in Ireland, the Marine Institute says commercial interest in the sector is growing.

Mick Gillooly, director of oceans, climate and information services at the Marine Institute, says: “With increasing awareness of the economic value of seaweed, mapping the extent of this resource is vital for sustainable management decisions.

“This is an exciting collaboration between industry, small business and research institutions, which will utilise the latest innovations and the expertise of Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme INFOMAR.”

Ireland’s seaweed resource

Among the three consortiums in receipt of these contracts are four SMEs, two research groups and two industry partners.

Supported by IT Carlow, Aerial Agri Tech bring their drone mapping expertise from the terrestrial to the marine domain with industry partner Bláth na Mara (Aran Islands Seaweed).

Fathom, a business technology consulting company based in Dublin, has partnered with Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway and Arramara Teo to focus on the potential for satellite data augmented by ‘groundtruthing’ (direct observations on the ground).

Meanwhile, Techworks Marine, a provider of oceanographic solutions to monitor the marine environment, has teamed up with GeoAerospace — a geospatial information technology company with expertise in space-borne and airborne remote sensing, cloud platforms and machine learning — and with NUI Galway’s School of Botany and Plant Science.

Phase one will see the three groups develop their projects and feasibility plans. Pending evaluation in early 2021, either one or two consortiums will receive further funding to move into Phase 2A — eight months to demonstrate proof of scalability and lay out a path to commercialisation.

Successful partnerships will have the potential to develop a niche coastal habitat mapping service that could be used to tackle marine pollution, harmful algal blooms or invasive species.

Published in Coastal Notes
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The spotlight is on seaweed and other renewable biological resources this week for Bioeconomy Ireland Week 2020 — which begins today, Monday 19 October.

A series of online events from leading stakeholders within the Irish Bioeconomy Network will showcase resources sourced sustainably from land and sea which, along with their byproducts, are later converted into “value-added bio-based products” such as proteins, feeds, fertilisers, plastics and energy.

Marine-related highlights of the week include the launch of Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) report on ‘Scoping a Seaweed Bio-refinery Concept for Ireland’ this Thursday 22 October, and Friday’s online workshop on ‘Sustainable Seaweed’ organised by Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Industry representatives say the bioeconomy has the potential to create new sustainable opportunities for farmers, and lead to the creation of high-quality green jobs in rural and coastal areas.

Noting the “unprecedented and difficult position” resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, Minister of State Martin Heydon says: “We have the opportunity to reformulate our economy and the bioeconomy provides opportunities to rebuild and restructure in a green sustainable and circular way for our primary producers, as well as the agri-food, marine, forestry, waste management, energy, construction, pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. We must build back better.”

Minister Heydon also joined Environment Minister Eamom Ryan in announcing the launch of the National Bioeconomy Forum.

This forum intends to provide a voice for the bioeconomy industry, relevant state bodies and community groups, as well as “promote, support and advocate for the sustainable development of the bioeconomy in Ireland”.

For full list of events taking place this week, registration for access and for more information of Bioeconomy Ireland, visit the website at www.irishbioeconomy.ie

Published in Coastal Notes

Scientists in West Cork are reporting significant results in use of a type of red seaweed to reduce methane emissions in cattle.

Cuts of between 40 and 98 per cent in emissions have already been achieved in trials in the US, Australia and New Zealand, Bantry Marine Research Station has told The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent.

The West Cork research station, which is now owned by veterinary pharmaceuticals company Bimeda, has been testing effectiveness of red seaweed species Asparagopsis armata in animal feed here.

Canadian scientist Dr Rob Kinley, who pioneered research on its use with the Australian Common Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has been collaborating with the Bantry station, managed by David O’Neill.

Asparagopsis armata which was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago and cultivated in the late 1990s in Ard Bay, Co Galway by research company Taighde Mara Teo, would have to be farmed here to meet sufficient quantities, O’Neill points out.

Asparagopsis armata was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago

He estimates animals fed with the constituent here could reduce emissions by 50 to 60 per cent.

The marine research company is co-operating with Udaras na Gaeltachta and Teagasc, and hopes to raise funds for more animal trials.

Údaras na Gaeltachta director of enterprise, employment and property Dr Mark White said there could be a double benefit for both farmers and climate change targets if the Bantry station’s work on the red seaweed additive does prove fruitful.

Teagasc principal research officer Prof Sinead Waters, who is also adjunct professor at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said that while initial results from Australia and elsewhere are positive, “further research is warranted”.

Dee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co CorkDee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co Cork

Prof Waters and Teagasc colleague Dr Maria Hayes, are involved in two projects testing various feed additives to reduce methane - “Meth-Abate” funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and “SeaSolutions” an EU- funded project with other Irish, EU and Canadian partners.

“There are a lot of caveats, such as bromoform, a compound within seaweed which is a known to reduce methane emissions but is also a known carcinogen. We need to ensure that if seaweed is fed to ruminants that no bromoform or other residues appear in the end meat and milk products,” Prof Waters said.

For more, read The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent reports here

Published in Marine Science
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Nitrates and phosphates from intensified agriculture are a significant cause of so-called green and red tides in West Cork, according to a new report.

Dr Liam Morrison, one of the researchers behind the NUI Galway study, tells the Southern Star that more must be done to keep farm nutrients from flowing out to coastal areas where they feed the growth of red and green seaweed or sea lettuce blooms.

While these blooms currently pose no heath risk to humans, the report alleges that they cause issues for inshore navigation, sea angling and ultimately tourism.

However, the Irish Farmers’ Association says agriculture cannot be solely to blame — citing a reduction in seaweed blooms in areas where wastewater treatment schemes have been upgraded.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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#Seaweed - The State cannot licence seaweed harvesting in a era where harvesting rights already exist.

That is the official position of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, following “ongoing assessment of the legal interaction” between applications for licenses and existing seaweed harvesting rights around the Irish coast.

Speaking at the recent Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Galway, Minister of State Damien English said: “I have taken the necessary time to carefully consider all aspects of this issue and have met with a variety of interests across this sector. The position is that my department cannot licence seaweed harvesting in an area where there is an existing right to harvest seaweed.

“I have also clarified that existing seaweed rights holders can continue to exercise their right to harvest seaweed and do not require consent under the Foreshore Act although they must respect relevant national and European environmental legislation.”

Minister English said he has written to all of the existing applicants setting out the position, and would work with them to consider how it would impact on their applications.

“In the course of the consideration of these issues, I have had the welcome opportunity to meet many people in this sector and listen to their views. One of the things I took from these interactions is the great potential to develop the wild seaweed sector if we take the right decisions to realise it.

“I will be working with my colleagues to identify the most suitable body to develop and implement a strategy to underpin the development of this sector which will need to include a robust and transparent licensing system.”

BioAtlantis Aquamarine recently began mechanical harvesting of sub-tidal seaweed in Bantry Bay despite a High Court challenge to the project by environmental groups, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Mechanical harvesting of sub-tidal seaweed was set to begin today (Wednesday 4 July) in Bantry Bay.

Operations by BioAtlantis Aquamarine Ltd, using the Atlantis Explorer (Callsugn EIPQ2) are expected to continue for the duration of the licence until 2024. Harvesting will take place in Areas A, B, C, D and E of the licence area, details of which are included in Marine Notice No 29 of 2018, available to read or download HERE.

The harvesting operations are proceeding despite a High Court challenge to the project by a number of environmental groups, according to The Irish Times.

The High Court has granted a judicial review of the licence awarded in November last year, and opposed by the Bantry Bay - Save Our Kelp Forests group, among others, for its alleged potential to “irreversible damage to the ecosystem and businesses of the Bantry Bay area”.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - While Bantry Bay prepares to open up as a maritime hub for Ireland’s South West, local coastal residents are expressing concern over the first State licence for the mechanical harvesting of seaweed.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Kerry-based BioAtlantis secured the licence after a five-year application process — but now faces growing opposition from local communities, many of which have hand-harvested seaweed for hundreds of years, who claim lack of consultation over the plans.

Pantry resident Deirdre Fitzgerald said the issue only came to wider public attention earlier this year, when an episode of RTÉ One’s Eco Eye detailed the planned harvest of nearly 2,000 acres of kelp forest.

“We have white tailed eagles resident in the bay, whales, dolphins, seals, otters, and so many bird species that rely on this bay for food,” she told the Irish Examiner. “What will be the impact on juvenile fish as a food source for all these species once this kelp is removed from the bay?”

However, BioAtlantis chief executive John T O’Sullivan said “everything was done by the book” in relation to its application process. The Irish Examiner has much more on this story HERE.

In other coastal news, objectors to Galway Bay’s marine energy test site have questioned the legality of the foreshore lease application, pointing out that a number of key documents were not included, according to the Connacht Tribune.

The same newspaper also reports on claims of “outrageous” public expenditure on the now-shelved Galway Bay fish farm project, a controversial scheme that cost the State more than half a million euro.

Published in Coastal Notes
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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