Last week trial harvests of brown seaweed 10km off the Dutch coast were begun by Stichting Noordzeeboederij (North Sea Farming Foundation), supported by Dutch commercial and research interests, to develop sustainable seaweed harvesting.
Co-founder Marcel Schuttelaar said: "The Netherlands is known worldwide for our innovative agri-food sector, and sea farming is a logical and sustainable next step."
Wageningen University & Research has meanwhile begun evaluating complementary summer cultivation of sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca). The green seaweed, which is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, has traditionally been eaten fresh and in soups in Scotland.
Wageningen is trialling production in three different types of "stockings" suspended in the sea to see which yields the highest.
"If the test is successful, the cultivation of brown and green seaweed cultivation can be combined for year-round production," said senior Wageningen researcher Dr Willem Brandenburg.