NASA satellite data would be helpful to estimate seaweed resources. (Photo: NOAA/Hebridean Seaweed Company/FIS)
NASA could help identify seaweed resources: report
Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 15:30 (GMT + 9)
NASA could help Scotland map its seaweed resources destined for use in heating and fuel. The authors of a new report suggest that satellite information of sea and coastline collected by NASA would be helpful to provide "robust estimates."
Under the report, “Mapping the Intertidal Seaweed Resources of the Outer Hebrides,” Lewis was identified as containing the largest quantities of the brown algae known as knotted wrack (41 per cent), followed by North Uist (22 per cent), South Uist (19 per cent) and Harris (16 per cent), with Barra offering paltry amounts (2 per cent). The final estimate for the Outer Hebrides was 170,500 tonnes.
Harvest scenarios were calculated on the basis of accessible resources within 3 km of landing sites.
NASA and other agencies, the report claims, could provide satellite data on the condition of the UK coastline, sea temperature and clarity.
At the same time, information from NASA was not used for the study, reports BBC.
The report identified overharvesting as a barrier to sustainable seaweed harvesting, as if people and businesses remove so much weed, the resource would be unable to healthily recover. For a sustainable harvest, areas should be left to rest for at least four years to allow regrowth.
But not all landowners on the Western Isles felt positively about seaweed harvesting.
"Some did not want to see neighbouring coastlines as the focus of commercial harvesting efforts and were concerned that such harvesting would have a negative impact on marine life,” the report reads.
"Stakeholders wanted to be assured that the relevant regulatory agencies were fully involved in any plans to harvest weed, as well as all of their tenants. And that existing protection measures such as Special Protected Areas for birds were fully respected and considered,” the researchers wrote.
Meanwhile, other local business owners were not as worried and instead welcomed the prospect of any projects that could create long-term employment in the region.
The report was assembled by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and Hebridean Seaweed Company and the research was co-funded by Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise.
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By Natalia Real