THE CHAIRMAN of the recently formed Scottish Seaweed Industry Association (SSIA) said businesses must work with government and regulatory bodies early on if the potentially lucrative sector is to thrive.
Walter Speirs, former chairman of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers, issued his counsel as he opened a conference on European Seaweed Production and Marketability.
The event, hosted by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), near Oban, attracted an international guest list, including seven of the most influential projects in seaweed cultivation.
Mr Speirs said:
“Communication with the government and regulatory organisations is going to be key.
“When I started mussel farming in 1985 there was no SEPA, no environmental health, no SNH but once the seaweed sector is up and running we will hear from all of those organisations. We need a representative view to speak to the authorities in a pro-active way because if we wait for legislation to be imposed it will be very difficult to change it.”
Mr Speirs said SSIA was established following calls from the industry for a representative body. SSIA will be made up of a membership that will elect a management committee. This committee will in turn help shape the Scottish seaweed industry.
“The seaweed industry is a global community,” said Mr Speirs. “I have been to China to see what is happening there and it is jaw dropping.”
The conference, which is supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, also heard presentations from industry experts. Professor Juliet Brodie, research phycologist at the Natural History Museum in London, told delegates:
“I have been involved with seaweed for 30 years and this feels like our Cinderella moment.
“It feels like we are finally going to the ball.”
The conference continues tomorrow.