1) You travel the whole world as Senior Adviser on the oceans to the United Nations Global Compact. What visit do you remember best over the past year?
There are so many great memories and a lot of enthusiasm. But the best memories are not related to places or visits but to people. I remember those brave women in Zanzibar spending entire days in shallow waters but who found a way to get jobs, revenues, empowerment, and dignity out of seaweed. I remember diving in the Kelp Forest in Patagonia, South of Chili, with local researchers, swimming into some kind of 60 meters high seaweed cathedrals colored with lights and fishes of all kind. I remember this momentum that we, as Global Seaweed Coalition, lived together with this first EU Algae Summit in Paris last October when we join forces to speak with political delegates from all EU countries. I remember diving near the magnificent Ouessant Island in Brittany being filmed by the CNN crew for a documentary that was later to be seen by a global audience of 200 M + people on TV.
But more than anything, I best remember this light of hope and enthusiasm in the eyes of this young audience in high schools and universities, when you show these kids, our own kids ! , that the world is not yet doom and that there are is an ocean of solution lying there ! Demonstrating them that seaweed is possibly the greatest untapped resource we have on this planet is the best of all experiences and it can be done anywhere !
2) How can we stimulate people in Europe to eat (more) seaweeds?
We need to tell the world that seaweed is good for the body and for the planet. Speaking to the next generation may be actually the best way to make a change. Kids and young people are more progressive and adaptable. And eventually, they can influence their parents. This is why, following my Seaweed Revolution book, I am now about to release a children book on seaweed and then a graphic novel.
Chefs are also major influencers to show how seaweed could be delicious. People are initially disgusted by seaweed. We should change this. There are many different taste and even if you don’t like them raw, try to cook them. Cocoa beans or potatoes are disgusting if not cooked. Still as chips or chocolate, everybody like them. The same goes for seaweed, let’s learn to cook them and let’s be creative about it !
3) What is your vision on the European seaweed industry?
I reckon the food market will take some time to emerge at large scale and we may need to wait for a generation. Still, in the meantime, other seaweed applications, such as animal feed, biostimulant, packaging are equally interesting and could provide a great source of revenues to make this industry attractive and highly resilient.
Still we have some prerequisite work to be done. Ease social licensing at national level, domesticate our own endemic seaweed and do not rely on Asian species only, streamline regulations to open the market, develop sustainable extraction processes to valorize all seaweed compounds . This is such an exciting journey ahead of us ! But we will have to be patient and more importantly get together. We can make it but it can only be altogether!