Kelp wanted: Pioneering the seaweed farm of the future

日期:2019-03-30 01:06:09 作者:年烟侃 阅读:

Flip Nicklin/Plainpicture By Sandrine Ceurstemont LATE last spring, in a sleepy coastal town in Northern Ireland, a fishing boat returned to shore overflowing with seaweed. Back when Portaferry was a thriving fishing village, that catch would have been an embarrassment. For Karen Mooney and her team, though, the slimy brown boatload was cause for celebration. A year on from their successful first harvest, Mooney is heading out for a tour of the underwater farm after several weeks of stormy weather kept her away. In a sheltered inlet, row after row of ropes float near the surface. Several months ago, each rope was seeded by hand with spores cloned in a hatchery. Now, thick with blades of kelp up to 4 metres long, they are almost ready to be gathered in again. It’s hard work, and slow. “Seaweed cultivation is still in its infancy,” says Mooney, a marine biologist at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. “We’re way back with handheld ploughs.” But despite using old-fashioned techniques, Mooney is at the crest of an aquacultural revolution spurred on by seaweed’s many talents. Whether as food, drug or biofuel, seaweed is incredibly versatile. So versatile, in fact, that some think seaweed could grease the wheels of an even bigger revolution: the industrialisation of the sea. Seaweed cultivation isn’t new. In East Asia, a $5 billion crop is harvested every year, mostly for food. But other than nori,