Sustainability is key to any future development
A new report outlining future options for the Scottish seaweed industry has been welcomed by Scottish Government ministers.
Sustainability of the sector is key to any future development, with harvesting of some kelp species already banned.
The global seaweed industry is estimated to be worth €8.1 billion per year, with Asia dominating the cultivated seaweed industry.
In Scotland, the review found the sector delivers an estimated Gross Value Added of £510,000 and employs around 60 people, with small, artisan style businesses leading the domestic sector.
However, projections estimate this figure could increase substantially by 2040.
Popular as a cooking ingredient, seaweed is also used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
The mapping exercise was undertaken by the Seaweed Review Steering Group, an organisation with representatives from the fisheries, conservation, science, biotechnology and the seaweed industry sectors.
The review highlights the need for comprehensive policy and robust legislation around planning and licensing of the sector to deliver environmentally sustainable development.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “I am very grateful to the Seaweed Review Steering Group for this comprehensive report.
“There is a long history of harvesting seaweed in Scotland and growing interest in the sector supports our decision to include seaweed as part of the first stage of the aquaculture review by Professor Griggs which was published earlier this month.
“Other pieces of work, including the new seafood strategy to be published later this year underlines our commitment to ensure that existing and emerging seaweed activities fit into our broader framework for managing multiple uses of the sea, including fishing and renewable energy.”
The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.