Plans for two seaweed farms off the Cornish coast submitted

Credit: ITV News

Licence applications for two floating seaweed farms off Cornwall's Roseland Peninsula have been submitted to the Marine Management Organisation.

Seaweed farming businesses Biome Algae and The Carbon Sea Garden want to harvest seaweed for food, low-carbon animal feed and fertiliser, and alternative biomaterials to replace single-use plastic and takeaway cartons.

They have submitted identical licence applications in Gerrans Bay, which state the sustainable farms will involve a range of 3,080 to 9,400 grey surface floats connected by long lines in 22 rows.

Gerrans Bay Credit: ITV News

Each farm site would be 55.3 hectares, with the floating infrastructure occupying a total of 5.5 hectares.

In the last week, residents in the south coast village of Portscatho have formed a campaign group called Save Gerrans Bay.

Ben Taffinder works with his brother in the small local fishing fleet. He claims the farms would mean he would lose 25 percent of his immediate fishing area.

Ben Taffinder, Fisherman: "It’s not just us, this bay has been fished by small inshore boats from all the ports along here from Mevagissey, Portloe, Portscatho, St Mawes, Mylor and Falmouth for generations and they’ve shared that. It’s also recreational users who share that area, and what this project will do is essentially privatise the bay."

Robin Edwards is Race Officer for Portscatho Regatta. He says the farms would have implications for one of the village’s biggest events.

Robin told ITV News: "If this proposed application went ahead, it would pretty much spell the end to Portscatho Regatta.

"The first regatta was in 1875, so it's in its 150th year next year and we're having some big celebrations for it.

"But this would basically prevent us from sailing in the bay. We wouldn't be able to hold that regatta, which would have such a detrimental effect on all the businesses."

According the the licence applications, farming seaweed does not require freshwater, land, feed or fertilisers and it does not produce waste.

It can sequester carbon at a rate 6 times that of trees.

How a seaweed farm works Credit: Biome Algae

In an extended statement to ITV News, Dr Angela Mead from Biome Algae said: "Sustainable seaweed farming has ecological, economic and social benefits.

"Research and evidence demonstrate that seaweed farming contributes positively to the marine environment – increasing local biodiversity, restoring habitats and protecting species.

"This includes commercially fished species – increasing local stocks. The seaweed farmed are all native species found within the locality.

"Both Biome and Carbon Seagarden are small, local companies with local connections. Building resilience within the communities in which we operate is important.

"All at-sea and land-based operations will be local. As such we will be offering local employment opportunities, training and education.

"We would encourage everyone to make sure they read the application in full on the MMOportal, to ensure they have the full facts and request those who support the applications toplease make their representations. It's important all voices are heard."

The two applications will now be considered by the Marine Management Organisation. The deadline for public feedback on the projects is 12 January 2024.