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First ‘salmon farm seaweed’ harvested at Scalpay

Mowi Scotland senior environmental analyst Yvonne Booth, left, and environmental analyst Laura Tulip at Scalpay, near Skye, where sugar kelp grown next to a salmon farm is being harvested. Photo: Mowi.
Mowi Scotland senior environmental analyst Yvonne Booth, left, and environmental analyst Laura Tulip at Scalpay, near Skye, where sugar kelp grown next to a salmon farm is being harvested. Photo: Mowi.

The first crop of seaweed has been harvested from a multi-trophic aquaculture project being run by the University of Stirling, sustainable seaweed farming company KelpCrofting and salmon farmer Mowi Scotland.

The aim of the project is to determine whether locating a seaweed and shellfish farm near a salmon farm off Scalpay near Skye will benefit from the organic nutrients produced by different species of marine life.

Mowi environmental analyst Laura Tulip said: “This is another important milestone at Scalpay. The team at KelpCrofting is pleased with its first harvest and whilst we need a control to scientifically prove that the growth and quality of the seaweed has benefited from the nutrient enrichment from our salmon, the early signs are promising.

“Later this year, KelpCrofting will install a new kelp farm in the waters of South Pabay. Located away from the salmon farm, this will give us a point of comparison to determine whether the seaweed is directly benefiting from its proximity to salmon.”

Sugar kelp is harvested at the Scalpay site. Photo: Mowi.
Sugar kelp is harvested at the Scalpay site. Photo: Mowi.

Food-grade sugar kelp

KelpCrofting ensures that nothing is wasted from the seaweed.

“So far, we have harvested over eight tons of food-grade sugar kelp from Scalpay,” said the company’s co-founder and scientific director, Kyla Orr. “It is evident that the kelp is growing rapidly with each week that passes, and some fronds are nearly two metres long after only four months at sea. We will continue to harvest weekly into June and look forward to seeing how much more this super crop can yield.

“The kelp being harvested during May and June is part of a collaborative Innovate UK project with Oceanium and Efficiency Technology. After each landing, the batches of high-quality kelp are delivered locally to Kyle of Lochalsh for primary processing (chopping), after which it is transported to Oceanium’s trial biorefinery in Cheshire for further processing into nutritional supplements, plant-based protein and biodegradable packaging.”