Seaweed farming in Europe: appraisal and quantification of ecosystem services

The big picture

If a biobased industry using seaweed cultivation is to be developed and significantly upscaled, then there is a need to ensure that industry meets multiple criteria for environmental sustainability. This is to ensure it meets legal requirements such as the EU sustainability taxonomy, or to meet investor expectation (such as meeting the UN Blue Finance guidelines), and to deliver value through the Payment for Ecosystem Services. To meet these criteria, it is crucial to understand how seaweed cultivation enhances key ecosystems services such as climate mitigation, nutrient remediation or reduces biodiversity risk either on its own, or as part of an integrated industrial system through co-location with other sectors such as offshore wind. Such understanding allows for alignment with policy and commercial ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ (PES) initiatives which can directly valorise ecosystem services and contribute to the economic sustainability of the production, such as Voluntary Carbon Markets and Nutrient Credits.


We are looking for a dynamic, self-motivated and enthusiastic scientist with a background in marine ecology and or aquaculture. You will be happy working in the field, lab or analysing data. You will enjoy looking at the bigger picture while maintaining an attention to detail. You will have a degree (undergraduate and or masters) in a relevant subject, and ideally previous research experience. The PhD is industry funded and the candidate must be comfortable working between industry and academia and understanding the importance of applying their research to ‘real world’ issues. You will be required to interpret your research in the context of a rapidly changing policy landscape.

The project

Using an ecosystem service approach, the climate and biodiversity risk reduction potential of seaweed aquaculture will be investigated. This will be done by developing analytical techniques to quantify the ecosystem services such as carbon burial and nitrogen removal. This might include use of new techniques to measure nitrous oxide or methane fluxes around the seaweed farms and in sediments beneath or adjacent to the sites or metagenomic analysis of benthic communities. Where possible the magnitude of these risk reductions will be quantified at a range of operational seaweed farms within Europe. This information will be used to inform farm design and operations to maximise these benefits, and feed into the policy dialogue across Europe as the industry develops.

Closing date for applications: Tuesday 11th October 2022 (17:00 hrs)

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For further information

Please contact Dr Adam Hughes for further information about the project (
Closing date for applications: Tuesday 11th October 2022 (17:00 hrs)
Interview date: 3rd November 2022
Studentship starts: on or before 16th January 2023

This 3.5 year, fully funded PhD studentship follows UKRI funding guidance. To qualify for home fees status, applicants must be either a UK National (meeting residency requirements) or meet the requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme and have either settled status, pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements) or indefinite leave to remain or enter. The studentship covers home fees, a maintenance stipend and a research training grant.

The documents you need to apply for the PhD studentship: Seaweed farming in Europe: appraisal and quantification of ecosystem services

RD1_Part1_Research Degree Student application 1.0 2022_23
1iii Applicant Reference Request form_22
1a - PGR-2022-23-Application-guidance_SAMS

Please ensure you submit the application form with all the relevant supporting documentation to SAMS Graduate School by email to: