“This is where the airplane goes – and there’s another one right next to it,” Pure Ocean Algae’s Michael O’Neill joked during The Fish Site’s recent visit to the facility. According to O’Neill, the 600 m² building is – to his knowledge – the biggest seaweed production facility in Europe.
It is a scaled-up version of his tank-based dulse hatchery and – once fully fitted – could potentially produce one million meters of seed material every year. Though Pure Ocean Algae started farming dulse in 2019, O’Neill has plans to branch out into different varieties of red and brown seaweeds – including saccharina, alaria, and digitata.
The push to scale up his seaweed hatchery came after he identified a key bottleneck in the European seaweed industry: biomass. Though firms have identified a myriad of uses for farmed seaweed, there is a perennial struggle to source enough material for processing. This shortage also begins early in the farm cycle, with farmers struggling to source quality seed material for grow-out.
O’Neill explained that the lack of biomass is preventing the industry from meeting its sustainability potential. Seaweed-based products – from food and feed ingredients, nutraceuticals, and bioplastics – are struggling to come online, as they can only be produced in low volumes. This shortage makes it more difficult for seaweed-based products to supplant readily available hydrocarbon-based materials or other ingredients.
Read the entire article at the Fish Site.