Scotland’s first seaweed academy has been set up to explore an industry worth £12bn worldwide.
The product is used in everything from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics to foodstuffs and even as a substitute for plastic.
One of the world’s richest men – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – is investing $100m into seaweed farming as a green alternative to fossil fuels through his Earth Fund.
An experimental farm in Oban – the first of its kind in the UK – hopes to tap into this big business through courses run by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
Dr Adrian Macleod, from SAMS, described Scotland’s waters as “perfect” for growing seaweed.
He said: “It’s rich in nutrients around the winter months and into the summer and we also have a history of aquaculture and creating jobs in aquaculture in Scotland.
“We have a very complex coastline so we can shelter ourselves from the worst of the Atlantic storms.
“And we have a history of using seaweed in industrial applications – it used to be harvested in natural kelp communities – but we want to avoid harvesting too much from our natural seaweed and instead learn methods to cultivate it in a sustainable way.”
Vincent Doumeizel, senior adviser at United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, said the academy was embracing “seaweed momentum”.
He said: “Investment in seaweed has been multiplied 24 times in Europe over the last ten years and it has doubled again last year so it is growing. There is a seaweed momentum right now.”