In a comprehensive assessment of the potential risks and benefits of expanding seaweed farming, the United Nations Environment Programme called this week for “cautious optimism” and a lot more scientific research. Seaweed aquaculture is growing quickly amid enthusiasm about macroalgae’s potential to do everything from mitigating climate change to feeding the world to replacing petroleum-based fuels and plastics. But the potential risks to the environment and to vulnerable communities are still poorly understood, the report found. (No paywall)
Researchers at the University of Southern California are in the early stages of an experiment to farm seaweed for biofuel in the Pacific Ocean. Kelp can grow two to three feet a day without fertilizer, pesticides, fresh water, or arable land — making it an ideal product for the biofuel industry.
Applicants are asking Alaska's Department of Natural Resources for permission to begin hundreds of acres of kelp farming on the state's tidelands, reports Alaska Public Media. Last year, the state got requests to lease around 18 acres for various types of mariculture; this year, kelp farming would occupy two-thirds of the 1,000 acres of lease requests.