NEW paper: Off-shore aquaculture of Sea Lettuce beyond pilot scale

Sustainable large-scale aquaculture of the northern hemisphere Sea Lettuce, Ulva fenestrata, in an off-shore seafarm

Our new article describes the large-scale cultivation potential of the Northern Hemisphere Sea Lettuce (Ulva fenestrata) in an off-shore setting. We examined the effect of early hatchery conditions on the biomass yield and the seaweed´s biochemical composition and discuss how that could be useful for a flourishing sustainable future Blue Economy.

Ulva biomass has gained increasing interest from different economic sectors due to its many high-value compounds (fatty acid, protein, carbohydrate etc.). However, the European seaweed aquaculture sector is yet to start expanding its biomass production. To date, cultivation of Ulva spp. in Europe has mainly been limited to coastal near- and on-shore areas. Nevertheless, land-based cultivation systems are challenged by distinctive fixed and variable costs and if not operated effectively they are in most of the cases too costly and inappropriate for commercial scale production of seaweeds. With our new study we were able to show for the first time that a large-scale cultivation of the Northern Hemisphere Sea Lettuce Ulva fenestrata is possible in an open-water seafarm.

Our world population is constantly growing and the need of renewable resources and a shift towards a sustainable exploitation of resources was underlined by the sustainability goals of the United Nations.

According to present-day-research, oceans remain the only environment capable for extensive but yet sustainable agricultural expansion and especially non-fed species are considered an important corner stone in future supply chains. Especially photoautotroph primary producers such as seaweeds are considered a promising resource since they do not compete for arable land, or scarce fresh water resources. Although, this branch of aquaculture is rapidly gaining attention in Europe their cultivation beyond pilot scale is still under development. Our study tries to tackle this important up-scaling part of seaweed aquaculture and we successfully investigated the large-scale off-shore cultivation potential of the northern hemisphere crop Ulva fenestrata. Another central point is finding the right seedling hatchery conditions to foster a subsequently sufficient biomass yield and to accumulate high values of desired biochemicals in the biomass (e.g. high protein or carbohydrate levels). These issues were addressed within our new study and we laid a basis to adapt the desired biomass yield and biochemical profile of the biomass to support seaweed farmers.

If you are interested in our new article you can read and download it here.

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