The harvesting of Seaweed , Kelp, was once a boom industry in Orkney bringing in considerable income to large landowners. The Kelp was burnt and the ash, containing potash and soda was used in the glass and soap industries.
So great was the money that could be gained in the 18thC from this that workers were taken from their crofts to harvest the kelp from the shores to the extreme detriment of farming in the islands.The Kelp industry lasted for about 100 years but seaweed has been used in Orkney since the first humans landed and settled on the islands : roofing, fuel and fertilising fields amongst the main uses.
The cultivation of seaweeds for consumption has always been popular in Far Asian cooking and has seen an increase in use in Scotland. The Scottish Government has published a set of policy guidelines on its cultivation. The Seaweed Cultivation Policy Statement also sets out the framework concerning the environmental impacts of seaweed farms, including the requirements to:
- Consider and mitigate adverse environmental impacts
- Ensure that only native species are cultivated
- Be sited away from sources of pollution, where growing for human consumption
- Allow Small-medium size farms to be located anywhere in Scotland, subject to agreement and appropriate local conditions.
Scotland has a huge potential for the cultivation of seaweeds but the “impact of growing seaweed on a large scale, potentially as a monoculture, needs to be addressed” [Seaweed Farming in Scotland: Dunningham & Atack]
It is in response to this growing concern that the policy guidelines have been published.
Dr Michele Stanley FRSB, Centre Lead for Marine Biotechnology at the Scottish Association for Marine Science said:
“Over the last couple of years we have seen a growing interest in the cultivation of seaweeds for a variety of uses. The publication of the Seaweed Cultivation Policy Statement will start to give this industry, which is very much in its infancy, much needed guidance and clarity about setting up a seaweed farm.”
“It will hopefully help to encourage the expansion of commercial seaweed farming in a sustainable and environmental friendly manner.”
Launching the publication Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy in the Scottish Government said:
“We are starting to see the growth in seaweed as a commercial product, used in a huge range of items including food, cosmetics and fertilisers.This policy statement was developed after full consultation with stakeholders so we can understand and take into account the needs of industry and communities”
The policy guidelines will provide clarity over where seaweed may be grown, along with what kinds of developments will be approved.
Also of interest Kelp Burning in Orkney