While researchers have recently explored the environmental effects of important seaweed monocultures and the use of seaweeds in integrated marine aquaculture on a local scale, there is still much uncertainty about the broader consequences for marine biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. Important biogeochemical parameters in seaweed aquaculture modeling studies, such as oxygen, are still missing. The balance between nutrient uptake and farm yield – as well as maximum yield of desired constituents and seaweed mortality – is sensitive. A further identification of possible interactions between farmed and surrounding organisms, marine and benthic biogeochemistry and the atmospheric environment is therefore necessary.
More research is urgently needed and horizon scanning across research disciplines involving stakeholders is required to identify the next pressing research issues in order to address sustainable use, deployment and extension of macro-algae farming. Furthermore, there is a need to not only establish seaweed aquaculture as a profitable and sustainable source of income, but also to obtain a holistic view on seaweed farming as a tool for carbon fixation and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services. In this context the possible socioeconomic and environmental adverse effects must also be considered, discussed and further investigated.
The RECOVER foresight workshop will delve into these questions, and through a mix of experts and stakeholders, attempt to identify a sustainable path forward.
The workshop will bring together marine biogeochemists, macro-algae experts, modelers, engineers, architects and seaweed farmers, as well as plankton and fish ecologists and regional experts to discuss pathways towards the realisation of sustainable pilot-scale trials in three sample regions, each with unique impacts and constraints:
- The Bight of Dakar (a heavily polluted environment with direct waste water discharge)
- Madeira (run–off in the oligotrophic ocean)
- The Southwest Baltic Sea (subject to eutrophication from surface runoff)
Terrestrial water and waste water managers as well as coastal engineers shall be available to discuss how to integrate the pilot with land based mitigation measures for the reduction of eutrophication.
- Position paper in a high-impact journal
- Horizon2020 project proposal
- Pilot scale trial in Horizon2020 or other funding opportunities
By working with an array of experts and stakeholders, the workshop intends to combine practical application with scientific investigations in order to progress the state of research towards practical implementation guided by environmental and sustainable ethics.