The day started by a presentation of Normandy region by Jacques Mazoyer, highlighting the leadership position of the region in aquaculture of mussels and oysters. Jacques emphasized the potential of local expertise and of the 470 km coastal line.
Then, Stéphane Travert presented the brand new institute CENTREAQUA created a few months ago, still in non-physical mode but aiming to energize innovation in aquaculture in Normandy.
Willem Brandenburg gave the first technical insight into sustainability of seagriculture. He pointed out the importance of biogeochemical cycles on earth with a special interest in phosphorus and phosphates. Ocean is acting as a sink for phosphorus. Seagriculture will allow to use it as a source of nutrient to grow biomass. Willem's visionary idea is to expect to see, someday, a cheese of seaweed. Given the global consumption of milk worldwide. Seaweed cheese could impact positively the negative trend toward more milk, more cows, more feeding, more cropland requirements.
In the biomass session, new management tools applied to Laminaria stocks in France, were presented. It showed the efficiency to establish a sustainable coordination of all actors in the chain.
In the session about regulations and practices, Julie Maguire summarized outcomes of NetAlgae project and emphasizes the key role of shared best practices in seaweed harvesting or cultivation. Pas Perez gave us a feeling of how long the journey could be in modification or harmonization of regulations in the EU, by using the example of biostimulant market. A global view of seaweed markets was given by Yannick Lerat comparing seagriculture to agriculture. He recognized the potential of niche markets in numerous field of applications, but emphasized the need to think globally on food and feed priorities for a sustainable development of seagriculture.
Seaweed for humans was next topic discussed during sessions and also practised at lunch. Jos Hugense presented meatless products aiming to reduce meat consumption for better health of consumer and better health of the planet. From meat to pasta, there was only one step, as Willem Sodderland showed us in his "I sea pasta" marketing concept. This gave the feeling of how simple could be seaweed acceptance by consumers, providing it enters know habits and follows creative marketing routes based on human relations. Beside staple food, seaweed also have unique potential in functional food as Maria Hayes described in her screening or biologically active molecules.
The potential of Seaweed for animals was imaged by Mustapha Berri explaining how natural antimicrobials could replace antibiotics in feeding formulations. Then Pi Nyvall-Collen gave another view using green seaweed for young pig and chicken feeding with interesting effects on better health and improvement of vaccination efficiency. Hävard Steinshamn successfully played the difficult exercise to show negative results for specific seaweed usage in ruminant feeding, highlighting the danger in generalizing seaweed healthy properties for animal feeding. It has to be specific on species used and well defined protocols. Then Simon Faulkner proposed us a dive in fish feeding with Ocean Harvest products and positive effect on fish health.
From this highly valuable information shared during sessions and networking discussions, it appears to me that 3 "take home messages" should be stated :
- How to make seaweed resource available in higher quantity with appropriate quality and traceability? Promotion of seaweed culture is mandatory for the development of Seagriculture and seaweed consumption.
- Regulation is an issue from seaweed harvesting, cultivation to applications in food, feed... How smalls companies can manage such hurdles in economic development. There is a need for coordination and increasing the lobbying power of the seaweed community.
- Networking is important to the seaweed community, as stated in the point above. There is a need to work together to develop seagriculture. Vertically integrated supply chain requests a lot of energy from small companies. There is a need to improve the value chain for better efficiency and maximize shared benefits among seaweed community.