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Monday, July 18, 2016

18/07/2016: Seaweed, the commodity of the future

http://www.seagriculture.eu/
     
Seaweed is increasingly contributing to our society becoming bio-based. As a new and sustainable protein source, we are gradually trusting on it as a commodity to produce our textile, bioplastics or even bio-fuels in case of an increase in energy prices.
      
Seagriculture, the international conference on seaweed, will take place on 27-28 September in Aveiro, Portugal. It will go into the many different applications of seaweed that exist now, and also pave the way for the future.

      
Seagriculture: where seaweed industry and academia meet!
This fifth edition of the Seagriculture conference will deal with the transformation from small individual businesses towards a bigger and well organised industry. In order to develop a sustainable, and economically sound industry, the economic value of seaweed has to be enhanced while reducing production costs. As the conference venue is Aveiro, Portugal, a special focus is on Iberian seaweed initiatives. The keynote speech of Porto University’s Isabel Sousa Pinto informs us on what is being done and can be aimed for in Southern Europe.
     
Seaweed biology at the beginning of the value chain
In six plenary sessions, experts of various knowledge institutes and companies will share their expertise and insight in the seaweed industry. The first session will focus on the very first beginning of the value chain: selection and breeding in order to get the highest yield or the highest quality (or both). The resulting seaweed species will have influence in all links further on in the value chain. Speakers in this session include Philip Potin of SB Roscoff, Banco Español de Algas’ Juan Luis Gomez Pinchetti, and Claire Gachon of SAMS.
       
Rules and regulations: necessity or burden?
Whether seaweed can be used for human food or animal feed is dependent on the traceability and the reliability of the food products. Norms and standards are being developed right now and the involvement of the seaweed community is highly needed. Extra regulations may be a burden on each individual entrepreneur, but may also be the necessary prerequisite for the seaweed community to become a serious industry. In session 2, regulatory expert Sander van den Burg (LEI/Wageningen UR) deals with norms and standards.
        
http://www.seagriculture.eu/
Image: Nadya Peek
     

Towards an industrialised and efficient industry
To become a serious business, a thorough economic analysis is the base for improvements and developments. Session 3 is directed at the improvements in seaweed business cases. To what extend is upscaling a solution to make a business beneficial? Or is the first priority to increase/improve the financial benefit of seaweed? And what are the technological challenges that need to be overcome in order to make seaweed farming an industrialised and efficient industry? We have invited World Bank’s Randall Brummett, and OceanRainforest’s Olavur Gregerson to enlighten us on these matters.
       
The producer’s dillemma
The possibility to derive low volume high value products from seaweed and the change to produce high volumes of low value commodity with a constant and trustworthy quality are two extremes of the spectrum of seaweed cultivation.

         
These three issues are the titles of session 4, 5 and 6. All these aspects need to be coordinated in order to further develop a sustainable and profitable seaweed value chain.
      
In session 4, we welcome IHC’s Bernardete Castro to update us on a seaweed harvesting machine, Frank Neumann of Seaweed Energy Solutions on the challenges of upscaling in European seaweed farming, and ALGAplus’ Helena Abreu on landbased farming.
      
Session 5 will host Balakrishnan Prithiviraj of Dalhousie University, David Learmonth of Stemmatters and Algaias Benoit Quéguineur. They will go into high-end applications of seaweed, before we turn to Jacques Mazoyer of Cargill to hear about carrageenans, and seaweed for high volume products in general in Session 6. He is followed by Olmix’ Monique Ras for seaweed in feed, Philippe Lavoisier for Ulva-based plastics and Tom Wijers for fish feed specifically.
        
For a more detailed description of the speakers and their presentations, visit the Seagriculture site HERE. Abstracts can be found under ‘News’.


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