Traditional kelp farming methods require a high amount of labor and are limited in geographic distribution – occurring mainly in nearshore, sheltered sites. To address growing global demand for sustainable biomass, the continued expansion of kelp cultivation will most likely have to move further offshore. Although many offshore cultivation trials have been done over the last 50 years, few were sufficiently robust to be viable in exposed and deep-water areas. In the North Atlantic Ocean, a Faroese company developed and tested a structural farm design that has survived in open-ocean conditions since 2010. The durable structure has withstood harsh weather events common in the Faroe Islands and thereby presents a potential strategy and method for moving kelp farming further offshore. This paper describes the primary challenges of offshore kelp farming and provides an overview of work previously done. Ultimately, the improved productivity, system survivability and scalability the MacroAlgal Cultivation Rig (Faroe Islands) and the BioArchitecture Lab cultivation grid (Chile) represent state-of-the-art and powerfully transformative strategies to pursue large-scale offshore farming to support mass production of kelp in the near future.
Funding source: Nordic Innovation
Award Identifier / Grant number: Mar-14324
Funding source: HORIZON 2020 BBI
Award Identifier / Grant number: 720755
About the authors
Urd Grandorf Bak, PhD is working as industrial researcher at Ocean Rainforest. She has an MSc in Environmental Biology and Geography. Urd holds an Industrial PhD from the National Food Institute at DTU and Ocean Rainforest. The field of her work is an investigation of the nutritional composition of cultivated macroalgae and how to optimize seeding and cultivation methods. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with seaweeds in relation to commercial production from seeding to harvesting and investigated the nutritional composition with focus being on the species P. palmata, A. esculenta and S. latissima cultivated offshore in the Faroe Islands.
Ólavur Gregersen is Co-founder and Managing Director of Ocean Rainforest with the responsibility for the overall project management and business development of Ocean Rainforest. He has more than 20 years of experience as entrepreneur and international consultant as well as non-executive Director in several innovative companies and projects. Ólavur has specialized in business development, project management and socio-economic impact analysis and he has been the coordinator of several European and Nordic research projects like WhiteFishMaLL, MacroValue and MacroBioTech. The project topics cover macroalgal cultivation and processing, marine ecosystem management, information and communication technology and sustainable food and feed production.
Javier Infante is currently the CEO of Patagonia Seaweeds SpA, a company dedicated to consultancy in seaweed aquaculture. He is an Aquaculture Engieneer, with a MSc. in Bussines Administration. He has more than 10 years of hands-on seaweed cultivation experience at the hatchery and ocean level. Recent projects in which he has taken a lead are mostly related to seaweed culture for the biofuels and phycocolloids industries, as well as social oriented technology transfer projects. His latest work has been advocated to techno economic assessments of seaweed cultivation in Chile and the United States.
The authors would like to thank Assistant Professor Carolina Camus, Universidad de Los Lagos, for valuable discussions and feedback. Last, but not less important, the authors would like to thank their colleagues at Ocean Rainforest Sp/F, who have helped to make this research possible, and specially to Eliza Harrison, who helped with redaction and proof reading of the manuscript.
Author contribution: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.
Research funding: The authors are grateful for the financial support from Nordic Innovation in 2015-2018 through grant number Mar-14324 (MacroValue) and from HORIZON 2020 BBI in 2016-2020 through grant number 720755 (MacroCascade). The author Urd Grandorf Bak received research grants from Innovation Fund Denmark for an Industrial PhD education (2016-2019).
Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.
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