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Scotland’s new Seaweed Academy shortlisted for environment award

The Seaweed Academy has already run a pilot course for 10 attendees. Photo: SAMS.
The Seaweed Academy has already run a pilot course for 10 attendees. Photo: SAMS.

A seaweed industry training resource centre near Oban in Scotland has been shortlisted for a VIBES Scottish Environment Business Award for its ongoing efforts to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Seaweed Academy is part of SAMS Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), and is the UK’s only dedicated seaweed industry facility offering a complete package of training, education, and business development.

In its entry to the VIBES Awards, SAMS said that by addressing the skills requirements for the seaweed industry, the Academy is enabling further growth of a sector that will play a crucial role in the UK’s ambitions to slash GHG emissions by 2035 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. SAMS Enterprise has also been sortlisted for its SIMBA (Snow Ice Mass Balance Apparatus) that provides reliable, long-term data gathering and monitoring solutions which help understand changes in sea ice, river ice and snow in extreme and inaccessible locations.

Extremely proud

Mike Spain, head of SAMS Enterprise, said: “To be shortlisted as a finalist in the VIBES Award is a great achievement, but to have two nominations is something we're extremely proud of and a testament to our hard-working staff in SAMS Enterprise and across the wider SAMS Group. 

“The Seaweed Academy launch this year has been hugely successful and is a key element in the growth of this fledgling industry in Scotland - and throughout Europe. 

“By addressing the skills requirements for the seaweed industry, we are enabling further growth of the sector and strengthening the UK's position as a global innovation leader in this field.”

Carbon efficient

Producing biomass in the sea is inherently more carbon efficient than on land. Furthermore, seaweed farming requires no additional fertilisers and extracts inorganic nitrogen from the marine environment, in doing so reducing GHG emissions from the environment by reduction of marine nitrous oxide (N₂O) to the atmosphere.

A further benefit of seaweed farming is that it can be a “carbon negative” activity depending on how the biomass is produced and used. 

SAMS also uses low carbon technology and best practice to operate two seaweed farms.

The Seaweed Academy, which was formally opened in April, has already run a pilot course for 10 attendees at different stages of seaweed cultivation / industry development.

Sustainability champions

The VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards are a partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust, Highland & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Water, Zero Waste Scotland and NatureScot, and recognise businesses that have championed sustainability by identifying ways to tackle the impact on the planet by reducing consumption of its resources.

A record number of entrants for the 2022 awards have been narrowed down to 45 finalists from across a range of industries including food and drink, construction, and life sciences.

Last year’s shortlist included salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. These included introducing a bespoke hybrid power system aboard one of its feed barges at its Loch Spelve farm on Mull.

The company has since bought a second hybrid barge, from Scale AQ, and is using a hybrid workboat owned by Inverlussa Marine Services. It is also trialling a feed barge powered by solar panels on land.

Some of the team from the SAMS commercial arm, SAMS Enterprise, at Aquaculture UK 2022 in May. From left: Mike Spain, head of enterprise; Rhianna Reese, Seaweed Academy coordinator; Amber Irwin Moore, environmental aquaculture consultant; Iain Gatward, business development manager. Photo: FFE.
Some of the team from the SAMS commercial arm, SAMS Enterprise, at Aquaculture UK 2022 in May. From left: Mike Spain, head of enterprise; Rhianna Reese, Seaweed Academy coordinator; Amber Irwin Moore, environmental aquaculture consultant; Iain Gatward, business development manager. Photo: FFE.