Tide must turn to use potential of seaweed
AN estimated 100,000t of seaweed washes up daily on the Irish coastline, but only a fraction of this resource is currently being exploited for its potential as a foodstuff, and the raw material for medical, cosmetic and other uses.
Countries such as Norway, France and Spain are decades ahead of us when it comes to the commercial harvesting of seaweed, and IFA aquaculture secretary Richie Flynn believes exploiting our seaweed resources needs to be part of any government vision for the overall seafood industry.
"There is huge potential for public-private investment on the seaweed side," says Mr Flynn.
"Apart from the food industry, the research proves there's a multitude of potential uses for seaweed in the medical and synthetics industries.
"It's a really exciting area for new development, if only the relevant government authorities would allow our SMEs [small and medium enterprises] to fully research and develop the scope of the product that is out there.
"This is a sustainable and renewable resource, and 100,000t of it washes up on our shores every day.
"It's a no-brainer that developing this resource should be a priority for the so-called 'smart economy'."
One company that is taking a lead in the hi-tech application of Ireland's seaweed resources is Ocean Harvest Technology, based in Tuam.