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A taste of the sea(weed)...All year round

A taste of the sea(weed)...All year round

Tuesday 25 June 2019

A taste of the sea(weed)...All year round


Seaweed may be set to hit more islanders' plates and skincare routines, as the Environment Minister moves to scrap 'outdated' rules that only allow it to be harvested three months a year.

If his plans are passed, Deputy John Young's proposals would allow both individual seaweed foragers and "cottage-industry-scale businesses" to harvest the so-called 'coastal superfood' all year round - rather than just between February and April - for agricultural use, cooking and even cosmetics.

Harvesting seaweed was first authorised in 2014, but has been restricted to the period from 1 February to 30 April, between sunrise and sunset, from Monday to Saturday each week.

A report explaining Deputy Young's proposals notes that a small number of individuals and small businesses currently harvest seaweed for culinary, agricultural and body-care products. It adds that these initiatives are at present “hampered” by the seasonal limitations. 

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Pictured: The Environment Minister, Deputy John Young.

The proposed regulations would therefore allow individuals and licensed businesses to harvest seaweed at any time of year. They would, however, be subject to limits on quantity, depending on the species of seaweed.

“The draft Regulations are required to allow the sustainable exploitation of the Island’s seaweed resources. They protect the resources from over-exploitation, while at the same time supporting local scale industry based on its use,” the Environment Minister said.

Some species of seaweed will have a bag limit set at zero to prevent exploitation, while others, such as sea lettuce (Ulva) and storm cast weed (Vraic de venu), will have no limits placed upon them.

Those wishing to harvest seaweed for commercial purposes will require a licence, whose fee has been set in line with the existing scallop permit scheme. The Environment Minister said this requirement would allow the Government “to impose licence conditions to further manage the resources at species level as required.”

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Pictured: The green algae, which can build up in large clumps and release a foul smell.

Meanwhile Growth, Housing and Environment is trialling a new pilot scheme to see if sea lettuce, which blooms during the summer months, can be turned into compost.

The trial involves a new method of collecting sea lettuce with a modified rake that reduces the amount of water collected. The sea lettuce is then transported to the Green Waste Site at La Collette where officers are carrying out controlled to see if it can be composted along with other green waste.

Since the trial started last month, more than 165 tons of sea lettuce have been collected from the shallow pool left in St. Aubin’s Bay. 

“Our primary objective is to reduce the impact of the sea lettuce on the beach by removing it before it makes the high tide mark,” commented Robert Major, Assistant Manager Highways and Beaches.

“Research shows that the small amount of early season sea lettuce is what gives rise to the much larger summer blooms, so we started harvesting as soon as the lettuce appeared. We hope that by reducing the sea lettuce now it might prevent a big build up.”

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Pictured: Since the trial started last month, more than 165 tons of sea lettuce have been collected from the shallow pool left in St. Aubin’s Bay. 

The trial will continue throughout the summer before being reviewed.

Deputy Kevin Lewis, Minister for Infrastructure, added: “I am really pleased that officers have identified this new method of sea lettuce collection and I hope the trial proves successful. It has certainly been a promising start. We have been trying so hard over the years to improve the situation but a lot depends on what nature throws at us.”

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