Why is this important?
Given the current challenges surrounding food production and climate change, it is important to promote a sustainable aquaculture sector in Europe. To achieve this, it is necessary that the European seaweed sector grows and that smart solutions are devised to make the production process more efficient. In recent years, many small seaweed growers have started close to home, in the Flanders / Netherlands border region, especially in sheltered areas or near the coast. These nearshore production sites are limited in the long run, and besides that there is a challenge to meet the growing demand for seaweed. In order to make a more positive impact with the seaweed sector, it is necessary to scale up and the best place to do this is at sea.
However, given the current state of production systems, it is not yet possible to fully utilize this space for seaweed cultivation. The Wier&Wind project responds to this.
The aim of Wier&Wind is to develop a large-scale and automated seaweed production system. A system that is reliable at sea and can be used within the many wind farms in the North Sea. Moreover, the system can be made economically viable through automation. The project thus contributes to the shared use of offshore wind farms; the project fits in seamlessly with the sector-wide vision of multi-use farms at sea.
What are the objectives?
Mapping of preconditions for commercial seaweed cultivation in a wind farm and, where possible, filling in these preconditions with results from the project
Working towards the business plan that suits this commercial offshore seaweed farm situated in a wind farm
Increase awareness of offshore seaweed cultivation
Designing and developing a large-scale and automated seaweed production system that meets the offshore requirements and is suitable for functioning within wind farms
What do we do in this project?
North Sea Farmers are responsible for coordinating and conducting market research and various communication activities within the project. The market research focuses on the question: “How do we get the commercial seaweed farm in a wind farm in Flanders and in the Netherlands?” The focus here is on developing 'investor roadmaps' for the large-scale production of seaweed cultivation within wind farms. The communication activities serve to show all relevant stakeholders that concrete steps are being taken towards large-scale, sustainable and professional seaweed cultivation in the North Sea.
What are the results so far?
Beginning of February 2022, the Interreg Wier&Wind projectpartners installed the newly developed seaweed cultivation system at the Offshore Test Site of North Sea Farmers. The seaweed cultivation system is a 50m long, net-based system design that builds on experience from the mussel sector. For this test different net structures have been incorporated to test attachment strength of the seaweed on different substrates and with different seeding techniques. Read more on the new seaweed cultivation system here.
Looking forward to a successful season we aim to test the harvesting machine in April/May 2022. Around this time, we will also plan a Wier&Wind event where you can learn a lot more on what the Wier&Wind project is about and aims to achieve.
Who else are involved?
The Seaweed Company; Murre Technologies B.V.; HZ University of Applied Sciences; GeoXYZ, Ghent University.
Finance: €3.400.000 over a period of 3 years
Partners: 6 partners from Belgium and the Netherlands
Time: 07/2019 - 12/2022
Contact: Eef Brouwers