Hi my name is Peter and I’m Jakob we are both students passionate about environmental science and natural resources during our studies we got excited about seaweed Seaweed is a wide term that we use to describe a variety of plants that grow in water While land-based crops need soil, fresh water, and large inputs of fertilizers, seaweeds don’t need any of this. Seaweed farms take up nutrients thereby improving the water quality They also create important habitats for marine fauna and flora. Once harvested, seaweeds can be processed for food or for other purposes All in all, cultivating seaweed sounds just like the ideal solution for a lot of current global environmental dilemmas. That is all theory. But now we want to see how the reality of seaweed farming actually looks like. We want to get our hands on some seaweed and get a realistic understanding of seaweed cultivation. So we will go on a journey and meet seaweed experts all around the world. First, we traveled to the city of Trondheim in Norway Here, in the crystal-clear fjords of the Atlantic Ocean the young Norwegian company “Seaweed Energy Solutions” is growing seaweed with their own proper cultivation system Seaweed Energy Solutions belongs to the European pioneers of seaweed farming and we are excited to meet Kaia, a manager of Seaweed Energy Solutions Hi, I am Kaia. I am working for Seaweed Energy Solutions as cultivation manager. Most companies in Europe today are producing for food, that is my impression Seaweed Energy Solutions started with a mission of producing seaweed for energy and we hope one day that we might get back to that but at the moment we see that the way to earn money with seaweed, with the technology and the cost levels that we have today that is to produce for food markets and the high valuables I think at the moment, we really see that there is a huge interest in food It’s a really growing trend in Europe to eat seaweed We do believe that that market will… …we haven’t reached to the top of that market that will still develop lot and we will see growth there and in cosmetics But I think eventually, in order to make a profitable industry it will need also to develop into more industrial purposes The lifecycle of seaweed is a little complex and contains several stages First, mature plants formate male and female spores once they are released to the water, they further develop into male and female gametophytes they can already be seen under the microscope The gametophytes in this stage are already able to attach to natural surfaces or in this case to the prepared seed-lines After the female gametophytes are fertilized, they soon developed into sporophytes that you can already see with bare eyes Seaweed cultivators control this process indoors. So these are the seed-lines, ready to be seeded Frøya, going out to Frøya What happens in Frøya? We have trailer full of baby seaweeds in the back here, so we are going to deploy them in the sea and let them grow for a couple of months You know, we have a seaweed-farm in Frøya That is the mission of today It’s gonna be nice…. well, we don’t know if it’s gonna be that nice, we hope so It is a storm It is a storm, alright. Spoiler. After four to six weeks in the hatchery we can bring them out here and then we store them in these tanks here until we are able to have ready conditions to deploy them in the sea So here it’s not about growing them or something, it’s a storage And then sometimes we can take them straight to the sea but when the weather is like this It’s really nice to have an opportunity to store them here I think that everyone that’s now producing within a certain scale I think we can have quite good ideas of what kind of technology we need But it’s just like you cannot invest a lot of money in technology… it is unwise to do before you have a market So we really need the market And at the moment, the market is growing So I think it’s it is quite promising in the future I think it’s becoming more…people are becoming more aware of seaweed. That seaweed actually is food. And also with this whole like…people paying more attention to that it’s not good for either you or the environment to eat much meat So you see more and more people going vegetarian or vegan And people also have more meals that are just vegan or vegetarian without meat It is also I like a little bit of a green wave over Europe, I think People are more aware of where the food come from and what it is And seaweed fits very well in people’s picture… it fits very well to this to this idea From Norway, we continued our journey to the Faroe Islands, a tiny island state in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean The Faroe Islands provide perfect environmental conditions for seaweed cultivation We just met some real seaweed enthusiasts on the Faroe Islands Here, we first met with Olavur and his team from Ocean Rainforest Olavur is an expert of seaweed cultivation in Europe and a true businessman From him, we hope to learn about the opportunities of seaweed cultivation in Europe Ocean Rainforest uses a different method of seed-line preparation than most other companies They buy gametophyte cultures and mix them with sea water and another ingredient This way they create a glue that can be massaged into the seedlines and makes the gametophytes stick to the lines directly Therefore, no stage of indoor growth in tanks is needed Here, they grow the seaweed vertically in the water So we have to mark the distances on which different species are going to be grown So then in the end, the line hangs in the water and on different levels you will have different species of seaweed Peter, what is your new assignment here? The new assignment is to put the two types of seaweed species on the rope By just dipping in the spores and the glue and just given it a nice little massage so they attach evenly on the rope and then you move to the next one where the Saccharina latissima spores are in And you go for the last 6 meters Today we are going out to both cultivation sites of Ocean Rainforest It’s gonna be amazing We will exploit the seed-lines that we’ve prepared in the last days we will put them there The whole idea about Ocean Rainforest when we started it was to come up with a design that could be deployed off-shore Seaweed has a great potential to do a lot of replacement of fossil-based products in the world but if we really gonna have an impact we need to do it at a large scale and if we want to produce seaweed at a large scale we cannot only base our cultivation systems to be near shore or in fjords because the competition about the shoreline and the near shore ocean areas is quite severe For us living here on the Faroe Islands it is important that we use the ocean because that’s our main resources and we use it sustainable And that’s why we started to test our systems in this area This is an area that we categorize as off-shore and open ocean So the main conditions for growth here is quite good because we have the salinity in the ocean that’s very stable you have the temperature that is stable and we have light that’s plentiful from now on, from March/April until September And that’s basically what’s needed for having a good location for seaweed cultivation These have been planted in November So they are basically 4 to 5 months old One pretty unique thing that Ocean Rainforest does here is that they leave their seed-lines in the water for 3 years and they just cut from the seaweed from the bottom part That way we can see a whole ecosystem developing something that we just saw when we pulled out the oldest seed-lines out of the water Those were not so much for the purpose of harvesting anymore, they were there for a long time but it wa s beautiful to see how there was a whole ecosystem grown on those lines like you could see crabs and all kinds of other little creatures and different varieties of seaweed and…yeah….they really stand for their name like that was a little ocean rainforest we saw there that was really… that was really amazing it’s nice to see that we can grow food and on the same time create something for the environment and create a new ecosystem We can make a change in the world in terms of producing a sustainable biomass and basically make the world a better place with less pollution and combating climate change and at the same time make an industry Agnes is not only cultivating and harvesting seaweed for food but is also into other products that can be made out of seaweed The seaweeds were the organisms that got me into biology That started already when I was 16 years old something like that. Being from the Faroes and growing up here you know we don’t have much vegetation that we can see but if you put your head down under the surface there’s a whole new world I guess the combination of these beautiful organisms and the environment they were living in and then the whole biology, photosynthesis Yeah… that got me going We have most of our production here and then this is used as a test site where we compare growth from here to there Together with her brother Agnes owns the company Tari In their latest experiments they are combining salmon aquaculture farms with seaweed cultivation For this project they collaborate with Faroes salmon aquaculture companies Their goal is to improve the environmental impacts and the salmon health in multi-trophic systems If we can sell the product that is functioning us as a service in making the established aquaculture in the Faroes to work better that is a product that fits very well into our…you know… our philosophy I feel that we’re starting a new thing here and we have all the agriculture to lean up against all the faults and all the things that they have managed to do wrong we can actually go ahead and try and make it right In Europe, we were able to meet seaweed pioneers and to witness a young and growing industry In order to see how big seaweed farming can actually go we wanted to visit the biggest seaweed production regions in the world Therefore, we decided to go to China and South Korea So, we’re having a typical Chinese breakfast in Beijing and guess what’s in the breakfast soup some delicious seaweed so next stop: Qingdao Today, we are on the way to the Institute of Oceanography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the beautiful bay at Qingdao It’s right there… we are already here…Institute of Oceanology And here, we are going to meet professor Shaojun Pang and his research team on seaweed cultivation and breeding yeah the exciting thing here is that they have created different seaweed breeds they call them cultivars and they will show us their facilities and they will also show us the seaweed farms where they are already grown I am a Shaojun Pang I work in the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences I am a research professor majored in marine biology, specialized in seaweed I’m leading a team and our team focuses on stock culture of seaweeds including micro- and macro-algae but the main focus is the big one the macro-algae because it is a very big industry So we are doing breeding developing new culture techniques and collect resources for long-term use We grow seven species of seaweed in China So the first one is Saccharina japonica, I told before is basically consumed as human food Wakame, too. Porphyra also. And Gracilaria. But Gracilaria is basically for abalone to feed a balone and to try them for carrageenan for agar industry So they grow from the North Liaoning Province and down to the subtropical Fujian Province all along the coast line actually In the 70s, started cultivar breeding and there are scientists working on that 70s – 80s – 90s and slowly there are cultivars coming steadily and the cultivar did a lot of a job to increase the productivity Now more and more kelp is consumed as human food if you grow very good quality products and then the price is good I think in the past 20 years has been become a very good business to grow kelp, Saccharina, as human food If you want to harvest millions of tons of fresh biomass within a short period of time it takes a lot of labor but now people are getting old a young people do not want that business and that’s a big big big problem for large scale aquaculture There is no automatic machine to seed, to harvest, and to process All very much limited We are working on that now We have a very big productivity now China produced 2 million tons of seaweed biomass in dried weight So the amount is viable but in the future, I think to increase the quality of the products is the crucial issue I will think that with our advanced technique to have good cultivar we will produce less product but with good quality Nowadays, Rongcheng is one of the main production base in China So it is the joint point of Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea and there the water currents, nutrients, irradiance is very good for kelp to grow And that’s why they propagate And also Rongcheng has a very long history to do aquaculture in the sea so people are experienced with that, to do that Together with Shaojun and his team, we took a train from Qingdao to Rongcheng Rongcheng is one of the main seaweed farming areas of China with an established seaweed industry Here they prepare the seed-lines It is very labor intensive business Already in the 1960s, Chinese seaweed farmers established a long line system where seaweeds are cultivated on ropes in the ocean for this technique, seed-lines need to be prepared first and the first part of the seaweed life cycle has to be controlled indoors This way, the seaweed spores attach to the lines before these are deployed at sea What we’ve seen what they prepared over there the seed-lines that we saw they will be put in the ocean water and seeds in here then it will take not much time maybe one hour for them to attach to these lines and then they are shifted to one of all these other tanks or basins here and there it will stay for two months. Thanks to our amazing hosts we were able to visit the companies that grow and harvest the cultivars developed by Shaojun and his team Together with researchers and businessmen, we took a boat ride through what was said to be the biggest seaweed farm of the world Here we are the biggest seaweed farm of the world It’s just incredible how huge that area is It’s here since fifty years So it’s no big news in China They’re doing this since quite some time Here, seaweed is cultivated in multi-trophic systems in combination with a variety of crustaceans and shellfish This is where the most nutrients come in and they are taken up by all this seaweed So basically the seaweed that we see here filters all the nutrition input that comes from the land into this bay We will have a look at their Kelp today, at their Saccharina These are the breeds they have developed in Qingdao Today we do the measurements We need to know the length, width, biomass, color and water content This is we do regularly every month, one time one month In China, in the supermarket you can find a lot of different seaweed products, especially snacks They seem to be really big trend right now After a great and very interesting stay in China, we are now heading for Seoul Korea and we will again meet a lot of interesting researchers and entrepreneurs And we will see seaweed farming as well as processing Korea has a long tradition of seaweed cultivation and processing A diversity of seaweeds are part of the daily Korean diet and the fast growing industry has developed around the farming and processing of seaweeds Korea has become the world’s biggest exporter of Porphyra or Nori a seaweed used to make sushi and other dishes Our goal was to visit the different places where Nori and other seaweeds are processed We are in a Korean supermarket and we can find a variety of seaweed products right here there is the Wakame it is just dried that you can use for cooking in different ways it comes with different packages then we have also the Saccharina japonica, the big Kelp either shredded or a whole blade And this what you can find here, we saw this in different shops, too are these large packages as well All the snacks. They come in these packages tiny portions together in one large package and we have some more snacks here like this deep fried stuff Togehter with some kind of dough I can’t read it so we’ll have to ask our Korean friend what exactly this is So far, for almost every soup we had here, had seaweed in it It gives it that nice sea taste It’s not a main ingredient just a little add-on The seaweed doesn’t only have its own taste but it also carries the taste of all the other ingredients in the dish that’s also another aspect why they probably put it in there What do you think? These were like caramelized kelp.They are okay. But these ones, the fried ones, with the sesame they are really tasty Here we are at the Seaweed Research Center of South Korea which belongs to the National Institute of Fisheries Sciences We had another inspiring interview and great discussions here at the center We learned a lot about the cultivation sites and cultivation techniques in Korea of various species Very long history of cultivation very nice to be here My name is Eun Kyoung Hwang, I am a senior researcher in the seaweed research centre of the National Institute of Fisheries Science So we are the only national seaweed research center in Korea One of the main research area is developing new strains These days, seaweed, we utilize for various aspects like food and the functional food also and medical use and many things And feed for abalone The middel of 1990s, the amount of the cultivation was going down 2000s, middle 2000s, the abalone industry was developed So they needed huge feed for abalone From that time, all the cultivation amount of seaweed is going up like that Still it is going up And also Pyropia industry is going very sharply increasing at the moment Now, Korea is the top of the world in the export of Pyropia Nori plants are not harvested entirely but instead parts of the plants are cut off regularly These pieces mixed with water are pumped into large washing containers After washing, this mixture is further pumped into a press that turns the Nori pieces into sheets These sheets are then dried and later packaged the sheets can either be used directly for sushi, gimbab, and other dishes or they can be further processed One way to further process these nori sheets, is to cut them into pieces and roast them Different flavors and oils can be added The roasted Gim is eaten together with rice in Korea but it has become a popular snack around the world We will take a look at their impressive automated production facilities now We have to get dressed for that But sadly we are not allowed to take the cameras with us We can tell you, it’s a very big automated operation here and it’s really impressive to see how big seaweed can go We are now at a little bit more traditional company An older company where they process mostly the Kelp Saccharina japonica and the Wakame, the Wing Kelp Another really popular seaweed in Korea and beyond is Undaria pinnatifida or Wakame Wakame salads gained popularity in western sushi bars it is farmed on ropes just like the Kelp we saw in China After it is harvested, the Wakame is boiled for short time and then salted and pressed Later, workers manually separate the blades from the stem The blades are again washed and later dried Here we are just around the corner of the company where they process the seaweed and you can actually see seaweed farms out there, too So right now it’s not the growing season they’re already harvested All we can see now is the sticks where they have the seaweed lines in between and the nets on which they cultivate it In Korea, we were able to see how a mature and highly developed seaweed industry can look like The different seaweeds are farmed by smaller, mostly family-run businesses but several larger companies specialized on the processing of seaweed They have integrated a number of new technologies and they managed to successfully export their products to customers around the world This could serve as a strong example for a new sustainable marine industry We are on our way to Sylt where we will meet Klaus the German expert on seaweed and seaweed grower himself He’s growing his own seaweed on Sylt And he already has a proper business with selling his seaweed to select restaurants on the island He will be able to tell us a lot about the potential of seaweed industry in Germany The last stop of our seaweed adventure was Sylt, an island in the German North Sea Here, we met with Professor Klaus Lüning a marine botanist and a true seaweed expert After seeing an Asian industry, we were eager to know whether something similar could be realized in Germany and other European countries My goal is to distribute the use of seaweeds in Germany and to produce the biomass which we need for that purpose There is an increasing interest in any plant material throughout the world. The veggie life, the vegetarians More and more people want to eat plants, in the end And so also algae Micro-algae are used for a longer time already than macro-algae in European or in Western countries but there are only two species which can be cultivated in the end in mass to supply to market and with seaweeds we have of course the advantage there is a big variety of species and a big variety of chemical composition and many of the substances as in higher plants are beneficial So for functional food, seaweed are a very good source We only have to have them Now, where do we get them? We cannot take all the seaweeds we want for these new applications from the wild because First in the wild, you have the animals You cannot destroy the wild populations of seaweed just to eat them always because there are the kindergarten for many small animals So we have to cultivate them This is increasing also in European waters now but in the sea there are problems with cultivation of seaweeds You have that again, animals which from May onwards use then the cultivated seaweed on ropes as a substrate In Germany, we have then the special problem that all our coasts are under natural protecting So we cannot use this seawater for cultivation of seaweeds So, I came to the idea and this is what is my main purpose in these years to cultivate seaweeds far from the sea, from the coast in artificial seawater on land Take the example of the Nori for the Sushi restaurants In 1950s, well in 1960s, 70s, 80s nobody knew a Sushi restaurant and now they’re everywhere So there is a rush suddenly but you cannot simply plan, it should be now Customers not only in the restaurants but also normal customers are very curious As soon as there is a new plant to be eaten they will buy it but it takes time and we cannot predict exactly, when On our trip, we gained unique practical insights into seaweed cultivation In northern Europe, we witnessed an emerging seaweed industry and met true seaweed pioneers In Asia, we saw a large scale seaweed industry producing millions of tons of seaweed each year We learned that seaweed aquaculture highly depends on local conditions and that there is no blueprint for seaweed cultivation in all the world’s oceans We experienced seaweed farming as a positive solution for the many environmental challenges we face From overfishing to climate change With this film and with our future projects, we hope to raise awareness for the unique opportunity that seaweed farming offers The people and the environment can benefit together.