Seaweed Cultivation in Scotland

Below is an excerpt about Seaweed Cultivation in Scotland. It is a guide to community participation in seaweed farm applications; which was sent to us by SIFT (Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust).

Full access is via the link at the end of the Introductory Excerpt. I found it fascinating and hope you do too.

Photo credit Kenny Armet

“What is seaweed cultivation? There is growing interest in seaweed cultivation around the coasts of Scotland. Particular attention is being paid to the cultivation of kelp and similar species which have high growth and biomass. The main species of interest are: Laminaria hyperborea (cuvie), Laminaria digitate (oarweed), Saccharina latissima (sugar kelp), Alaria esculenta (dabberlocks), Saccorhiza polyschides (furbellow). Cultivated seaweed can be used for a variety of purposes, including human consumption, animal feed, biofuel, fertiliser, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Seaweed cultivation largely takes place on long-lines which are suspended below the water (often in grids) and fixed in place by a system of buoys and anchors. Cultivation will generally take place in coastal areas which provide sufficient nutrients and appropriate depth, salinity and temperature. Typically, seeding of long-lines will take place in the autumn with a view to harvesting the following spring or early summer. Harvesting is usually conducted from a boat, with the seaweed either being removed from the long-lines by hand or using some sort of mechanical cutter1, and then transferred to land for processing. Seaweed cultivation can also take place alongside fish farming, particularly as a means to reduce the nutrient impacts of this activity.

Since November 2018, applications have been submitted to grow and harvest seaweed in an area covering more than 2 million square metres of the Scottish marine area and the sector is expected to continue growing. Whilst there are many socio-economic benefits to be gained from the sustainable development of the seaweed industry, there are also significant risks if the industry is allowed to expand without taking sufficient account of the potential effects on marine ecosystems or the consequences for other legitimate uses of the marine environment.

What is the purpose of this guide?
The guide provides an overview of the potential impacts of seaweed cultivation in Scotland, how those impacts are managed through the regulatory process, and how communities can participate in the process. The guide is divided in two sections:


This section provides an introduction to the potential impacts of seaweed cultivation. We hope this will help local communities to understand how proposals for seaweed cultivation in their area might impact upon the marine environment and other marine activities. Many of the impacts will depend upon the scale and location of proposed seaweed cultivation. There are also uncertainties about the severity of many impacts. This part also highlights the types of questions that individual stakeholders or communities may want to ask about proposals to develop seaweed cultivation in their local area.


This section explains the policy and legal framework which applies to seaweed cultivation and the decision-making processes for the authorisation of seaweed farms. It also sets out the opportunities for stakeholder participation in the decision-making process with a view to ensuring that local communities can make their voices heard in the debate about the future development of the seaweed industry in Scotland.”

SIFT: Seaweed Cultivation in Scotland Guide

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