18th December

International seminar to showcase seaweed versatility

Dr Susan Steele, Innovation Co-ordinator at BIM's Seafood Development Centre describes as “incredible” the upsurge in interest in seaweed over the last two years. She puts that down to recessionary times when people start looking at natural resources not being fully utilised and seaweed especially is seen as having huge potential. She says that the proof of this is that three out of every five enquiries to the Seafood Development Centre are seaweed-related! 

Dr Steele set up the first ever seaweed-growing course worldwide while working as head of aquaculture and business training so she feels well-placed to deal with such enquiries.

This seaweed course is now FETAC accredited, and is run by Dave Millard and Pete Donlon through BIM’s regional fisheries centres.

Highly nutritious
Renewed interest in seaweed is justified because it is naturally high in nutrients and anti-oxidants and provides huge health benefit to humans and animals.

In 2012, Seahorse Atlantic was launched following development work through the SDC. This horse feed supplement is grown on long lines by Dingle Bay Seaweeds, and is milled and ground. The SDC carried out work on the supplement in the centre and found an 80% improvement in coat condition in horses after only three weeks on the supplement.

“The phenomenal result of the seaweed diet has led to a very successful company which is used by many of the studs and famous horse riders in the country,” Dr Steele said.

Wide ranging potential
Another successful product with seaweed benefits is Kinsale Gourmet who produce frozen meals with added seaweed for health benefits. Again, these meals are hugely popular and are available in most major retailers in Ireland and the UK. It has taken work between all the divisions in BIM, the Marine Institute, enterprise boards and the county council to bring these projects to fruition.

'We’re working on many other projects with seaweed and launches will be occurring over the next six months. We’re very excited about the potential for seaweed in Ireland. One of the very interesting projects has been developed by three fifteen-year-olds who have swept up awards over the last year, including beating adult companies in Entrepreneurial competitions as well as a prize in BT Young Scientist.

“Oceanaboost is a seaweed health drink packed with antioxidants. To have the youth in the country excited about seaweed shows the important role that it will play in the future,” she added.

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