- Dariia Pasko
What do you know about ocean farming?
The seaweed industry doubled from 2005 to 2015 and grew for 0.9 billion US dollars during the last year. The estimated increase for the next 7 years is about 10 billion US dollars. That indicates its potential, but not in the food field. Seaweed is also used to produce cosmetics, clothes, packaging and even biofuel.
"Sea agriculture is one of the ways ... to improve the sustainability of the planet," says Suryanarayan, CEO of Sea6 Energy. The company is based in Bangalore, India. It cultivates and process sea plants to get bioplastic, fertilizers, animal feed and biofuel. It also produces machines to plant and collect the plants. Here is why company wants to mechanize farming process:
“Traditionally, seaweed production is labour intensive, making labour costs the main components in the cost of production. Developed to tackle this problem the SeaCombine is a fully mechanized harvesting and seeding catamaran.”
According to the company CEO, seaweed market will grow and reach 3 trillion US dollars by 2030. As of right now, Sea6 Energy is working on launching of mass production and developing its technologies. Industrial seaweed farming makes possible using the plants to substitute plastic and gas. However, specialists such as Vincent Doumeizel, director for the Food Programme at the Lloyd's Register Foundation
are skeptical regarding biofuel and say that: “producing seaweed for biofuel is like using gold for gravel."
Bioplastic though can be used for packaging and substitute regular plastic. It decays during 2-4 weeks and does not harm the soil after composting. Moreover, plants “can sequester up to 20 times more carbon per acre than trees, all without requiring freshwater, land, pesticides or other inputs”. Representative of Sway startup says. Sway specializes in packaging made from bioplastic and plan to partner with global brands such as Walmart. It uses only seaweed from farms to not damage wild ocean environment. Farming seaweed is advantageous for ecology too because it stimulates biodiversity and help to clean polluted areas.
Same as space and IT, ocean farming has a great perspective at least because “Seaweeds grow faster than any land plant, require no fresh water or pesticides and pose no conflict with land use or food supply”, which makes it easy and relatively cheap to produce.