15th October

Seminar explores the many uses of seaweed.

Meadbh Seoighe
Feidhmeannach Feirmeoireacht Éisc, Bia Mara & Bia Aquaculture, Seafood & Food Executive, Údarás na Gaeltachta

In September Údarás na Gaeltachta in conjunction with BIM held a seminar in Achill to explore the many uses of seaweed. There for forty attendees at the event ranging from shellfish farmers go chefs, all hoping to learn something about seaweed and the possible business potentials.

Five speakers covered  very diverse subjects:

Dr John Bartlett, Head of Research at the Institute of Technology, Sligo spoke about the Institute’s Biomara project.  This project explores the use of Algae as a biofuel. He spoke about the finite sources of fossil fuels and the need to look elsewhere for the world’s energy needs. Algae could provide a sustainable, indigenous source of fuel in a country where we export over 90% of our fuel. There is some way to go before commercial reality and the Biomara project is examining the broad ways to extract fuel from Micro and Macro Algae with Irish species of seaweed.

Declan Gallagher, finalist in the 2009 Ernest and Young Enterprise awards (Emerging Business category) and winner of the Ulster Bank 2010 Regional award is Managing Director of Oileán Glas Teoranta (OGT) based in the Donegal Gaeltacht exporting liquid seaweed fertilizer to golf courses around the world.  He outlined the history of his business and the importance of being Irish when selling abroad. He also touched on the company’s plans to expand beyond horticultural into human applications for seaweed.

Susan Steele head of BIM’s Seafood Development Centre in Clonakilty assisting companies in the seafood sector to innovate. The results of these projects have led to increased sales of Irish seafood in excess of €42 million over the last two years. She focused on getting as much value from seaweed as possible, and stressed the importance of looking beyond the basic uses for seaweed into something that will generate good margins for a business. 

She talked about milk outlining that for the a farmer can make earn a 30 cent per litre for ordinary milk or by adding value could earn up to €20 per litre with, for example,  a high-end organic functional yoghurt. Comparing this to seaweed, instead of just drying it and selling it in its most basic formats there are many other uses for this natural resource.

Martin Walsh is Western Regional Business Development Officer with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, working closely with the Irish Seaweed Industry since 2001 spoke about all the species of seaweed in Ireland today and gave a broad industry overview of what’s happening in this sector in Ireland.

Finally, Sean O Coisdealbha, based is Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Bemullet office outlining the typical supports that are available to established and new business, and he encouraged anyone with an idea to make contact with Údarás.

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