In the past year, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), TNO, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Deltares were involved in joint research looking at opportunities for Dutch businesses to cultivate seaweed offshore in the North Sea. It emerged that there is considerable potential for the future in the right conditions. That is why the five research institutes, together with the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), have launched a programme of further studies of gaps in our knowledge and technology in the seaweed chain, from cultivation to transportation and storage, refining and marketing the final products. This programme will be designed in consultation with the business sector.
A foundation has also been established, the 'North Sea Farm'. It has now brought together a large number of stakeholders such as growers, suppliers, banking institutions and research institutions. This non-profit organisation aims to establish a sustainable seaweed sector in the Netherlands.
Deltares has been contracted by the North Sea Farm foundation to work on an 'Aquaculture Atlas'. It describes the conditions upon which agriculture depends for the entire Dutch section of the North Sea: the availability of nutrients, temperature fluctuations, wave loads and human activities such as shipping routes, wind farms or protected areas.