How it all  started...

The North Sea Farmers Foundation was formally established on 10 January 2012 by Ecofys and Hortimare. The objective at the time was to set-up so-called test farms at sea on which to experiment with seaweed cultivation and whether that could be carried out in offshore conditions.

Ecofys, Hortimare and ATO were involved as project partners in subsidy projects related to the cultivation of seaweed at sea and setting up the Foundation was one of the objectives of such projects. Originally it was called Noordzeeboerderij.

But as all the subsidy projects were concluded more or less simultaneously and because there was a decreasing interest at the time in seaweed in the Netherlands, no concrete activities were initiated by the 'Noordzeeboerderij' after them. As a result, the organization became a “dormant” Foundation at the time.

The actual beginning

In January 2014, Marcel Schuttelaar, Eef Brouwers ad Job Schipper got together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for seaweed in the Netherlands. It was established that, apart from a number of small pioneers such as Hortimare and Zeewaar, working on seaweed breeding and propagation and near-shore cultivation respectively, there were actually no structural developments involving seaweed in the Netherlands.  Certainly not after the above mentioned projects had ended.

That was experienced as a particularly regrettable and frustrating because there were great opportunities identified for the Netherlands. In order to not miss out on them, Marcel, Eef and Job jointly decided to join forces, then, to work together and realize the possibilities with seaweed in the Netherlands.

Since Eef and Job had already been involved in the previous seaweed related subsidy projects, and thus on the establishment of the “dormant” North Sea Farmers Foundation, it was then also decided to bring it back to life and to give shape to this collaboration under that name. To this end, action was immediately taken to de-register the “dormant” directors, namely Ecofys and ATO , and to register Marcel Schuttelaar (via Zilte Zee BV), and Eef Brouwers and Job Schipper as directors.

This means that the meeting taken place in January 2014 at the office of Schuttelaar & Partners represents the start of North Sea Farmers Foundation in its current form, with the formal founders being: Marcel Schuttelaar, Eef Brouwers and Job Schipper.

Original founders’ vision and mission:

The formal founders put together the basis of the ideas of the North Sea Farmer Foundation, formulating the purpose of the organization during its establishment. The initial goal was to capitalize on the opportunities with seaweed in the Netherlands. Over the years, this goal has evolved into North Sea Farmer’s current mission: to collaborate towards a strong and healthy seaweed sector, in and from the Netherlands. This missions fully expresses the intention which the formal founders had when starting the North Sea Farmers Foundation at the time.

In addition, there were also a number of implicit points associated to this mission. These points are made explicit below:

·         A strong seaweed sector means:

o   that there should be sufficient opportunities for all players in the value chain. To develop new activities in the field of seaweed and to earn a decent income from their activities in the chain.
o   an innovative sector is pursued where technological innovations and smart solutions are used to develop a sustainable production system that can distinguish itself among the best in the world in terms of efficiency and product quality.

·         A health seaweed sector means that a sustainable sector is being pursued in the Netherlands and in Europe. Among other things, by making values chains with a low footprint (CO2, land use, etc.), creating new sustainable chains to replace inherently unsustainable ones and enabling local circular production chains. In addition, these production systems must be able to function, at least in balance with, and where possible reinforcing the relevant ecosystems.

·         The Nort Sea Farmers will always strive to implement the ground rules as well as possible at all times:

o   We are committed, each for himself and for the whole;
o   Focus and attention are our ingredients for growth;
o   Working together gives us energy;
o   We are involved. We inspire, stimulate and motivate each other and others;
o   Our output is of value to our network;
o   We do, learn and improve.

·         The North Sea Farmers is and will remain a not-for-profit organization. At its core, it is and remains an organization that serves the development of a strong and healthy seaweed sector as well as other developments that contribute to a sustainable and fair world. Commercial activities can be part of this, but there should never be a lost of sight for the following points:

o   such activities should directly support the mission of North Sea Farmers;
o   such activities competes as little as possible with current activities of commercial parties in the seaweed sector and can never have this as its goal;
o   any profits arising from these activities will be used for the continuity of the organization and/or to support developments in the seaweed sector. In line with the SBF Code of Good Governance, this will never be used for disproportionate remuneration of employees, advisors, Board members, Supervisory Board members or RvA members.