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Resources

Select the topics below to explore our resources and articles. 

Why seaweed?

When we began PEBL, we were motivated primarily by the climate crisis. The more we learn about seaweed farming the more potential we could see for us to shift our skills and experience into a new area - one that could help with the challenges of food systems, pollutants, health and declining coastal industries:

Food system - Imports make up 48% of the food consumed in the UK. If more food can be cultivated in the UK this would reduce transportation effects on the environment (global food security, 2015).

 

Pollutants and soil erosion - Agriculture is the biggest producer of Nitrogen-based pollutants in the UK, which poses a risk to sea-life by reducing the water's oxygen content (Warwick HRII, 2005). At the same time, soil erosion is a major concern for future food security. 17% of arable soils in England and Wales show signs of erosion with another 40% thought to be at risk (defra report, 2011).

 

Health and wellbeing - Diet-related non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes are a major health problem in the UK, with obesity predicted to affect half of all adults by 2050 (Food Foundation Org Report, 2016). Although there are many structural issues to address, there is a need to focus food production on low-cost, high-nutrient, low-fat foods that have minimal impact on the environment.

 

Coastal industry - The aquaculture industry in England, Wales and N.Ireland has stagnated over the last 30 years, despite growth in Scotland (Seafish, 2016). There is a need to strengthen and diversify the industries of coastal communities, many of which have suffered economic decline, and face significant social and environmental challenges (Coastal Communities Fund Annual Report, 2015).

Although not eaten widely in the UK, seaweed has great potential to contribute to health and nutrition, seaweeds are very low in fat, but they contain a wide spectrum of nutrients, with varieties such as dulse and laver containing large percentages of protein with similar amino acid profiles to legumes (Teagasc, 2012).

 

We follow Natural Resources Wales guidelines when harvesting wild seaweed for seed. Developing sustainable working methods and an ethical business are important to us, for the protection of biodiversity, and for the health and wellbeing of our workers and consumers. We contribute to a network of aquaculture organisations and businesses, to share knowledge, good practice and to seek advice and support.

 

Part of our work is focused on understanding and encouraging people's connections to the sea. We are planning to connect with community groups to share our work in accessible ways, particularly through performance and visual creative methods. Ultimately we want to raise people's awareness of sea cultures and increase people's curiosity and confidence to eat and cook with seaweed.

Impacts of seaweed farming

Seaweed farms have the potential to provide both positive environmental benefits and pose negative environmental risks. In this short article we outline of the key environmental benefits and risks of seaweed farming in the context of the UK. However, a comprehensive literature review of environmental and ecological impacts of seaweed farming is given here.
 

Environmental benefits (positive impacts)

 
The potential for seaweed farms to create environmental benefits include:

  • improving water quality (oxygenation and de-acidification)

  • enhancing biodiversity (creating habitat and creating fishery exclusion zones)

  • bioremediation (of nutrients and toxins)

  • supporting coastal protection by absorbing wave energy
     

Whilst these benefits can be context dependent, there is a broad consensus that seaweed farms have the capacity to create a net-positive impact on the marine environment of properly managed. Moreover, seaweed farming presents substantial potential in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss as it does not rely on the consumption of carbon-intensive inputs, such as fertilisers or pesticides and operations can be carried out with without significant disruption to existing marine habitats if managed properly.

Table 1: Summary of positive environmental impacts of seaweed farms in the context of the Wales coast. The benefit level for each impact is given in the columns on the right with shading in blue (low benefit), light orange (medium benefit), For medium/high benefits, a short explanation is provided about the conditions causing them.

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Environmental risks (negative impacts)


Although variation exists among farm sites, the greatest risks when farming on a large scale on the Welsh coast were found to be:

  • spreading of pathogens and invasive species

  • marine mammal entanglement
     

The remaining potential risks are low-level risks and concern the following:

  • habitats (disturbance of seabed habitats)

  • primary production (shading, nutrient depletion and current flow reduction)

  • sediment (detrital build-up and suspended particles)

  • alteration of wild genetics

  • pollution (noise, emissions and plastics)
     

These risks can largely be mitigated by good farm management practices and adoption of emerging impact mitigation technologies and strategies. However, for large commercial-scale seaweed farms under specific operational and environmental circumstances such risks can become significant. Nevertheless, environmental risks should be carefully assessed for all seaweed farms in Wales, as each part of coastline has a unique set of environmental and ecological characteristics which may cause environmental impacts to be more significant.

Table 2: Summary of negative environmental impacts of seaweed farms in the context of the Wales coast. The risk / benefit level for each impact is given in the columns on the right with shading either in blue (low risk), dark orange (medium risk) or red (high risk). For medium/high risks, a short explanation is provided about the conditions causing them.

Coastal Community Leaders

Here you can find a summary of the workshop contents from the Coastal Community Leaders programme sessions held at the Ucheldre Centre. Presentations, articles and reading materials are linked in the corresponding underlined bullet point below.  New materials will be uploaded within 7 days after sessions have been held.
 

Session 1
10:00 - 14:00, Sat 3rd February 2024

 

Session 2
10:00 - 14:00, Sun 4th February 2024
 

Session 3
10:00 - 15:00, Sun 3rd March 2024
 

  • Mirror values:

    • With aid from a list of adjectives, describe your 5 core values​

    • Ask a family member or close friend of what they view your core values

    • Compare to better understand which values you want to build on

  • Time audit

    • Mapping out your typical 7 day week

    • Mark activities with a +, - or 0 depending on whether they energise, sap energy or have no impact

    • How might you change your week to strengthen your core values

    • Feeding back on our 'circles of community'

  • Projection:

    • Consider a potential project that aligns with your values, your time availability and your communities needs

    • What can you do on your own in afternoon to work towards this project?

    • What can you do with a small group of people over a weekend?

    • What can you do with a large groups of people over several months?

    • Reflect on these three stepping stones and note what resources are required to go from step to step
       

  • Expert Panel: audio tracks of 4 speakers and Q&A below.​

Talk from Hilary - Save Penrhos
Talk from Nia - NW Wildlife Trust
Talk from Ness Owen - Poet
Talk from Amel - Project Seagrass
Q&A Session - all speakers

Session 4
10:00 - 15:00, Sat 6th April 2024
 

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