Offshore of northern Europe, a seaweed farm known as NSF (North Sea Farm). NSF was established in 2014 and is committed to developing a strong and healthy seaweed supply chain, in and from the Netherlands. This farm has been studied in a number of ways to assess ecological and economical impacts.
A recent report was just released evaluating economics, food safety, and ecological impacts of offshore seaweed farming.
Studies like these are extremely valuable to validate ecosystem services provided by seaweed farming, and should be conducted in numerous locations around the USA to be ecosystem specific.
General conclusions from the report below
high variability in chemical and contaminant composition of kelps, with only one month between sampling moments, was observed. This demonstrates the potential to harvest at the right moment, to provide the processing industry with desired products. However, it simultaneously shows the challenge to provide products with stable biochemical composition.
economic analysis indicates that relatively low-value markets such as the alginates are within reach for seaweed production in the North Sea, though for the near future a mix of medium- and low-value markets needs to be targeted
seaweed cultivation can have significant effect on the surrounding ecosystem, including biodiversity enhancement. But site specific information is required for the North Sea to evaluate how this activity relates to for example requirements by marine framework directives, and if farm management can further stimulate the ecosystem services provided by seaweed cultivation (through timing of harvest and/or technical adaptations to become more nature inclusive).