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A £150,000 project to expand and commercialise a seaweed nursery near Oban has secured up to £75,000 in investment.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has given its support to the project at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) at Dunstaffnage.
The nursery is operated by SAMS Enterprise, the wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of SAMS, which allows it to sell its nursery services.
It comes amid growing demand from commercial seaweed farms for high-quality seaweed seeded line.
As part of the project, the premises have been reconfigured to optimise production.
There have been refitted laboratories, an upgraded seawater supply and the installation of specialist equipment.
HIE said the project would also support 1.5 full time equivalent skilled jobs and the rapidly-growing seaweed farming industry throughout the UK.
The seaweed industry is the world’s fastest growing area of global aquaculture production, currently worth more than £11 billion a year.
Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: ‘The European Marine Science Park is a major hub in Scotland’s growing marine economy.
‘The expanding cluster of activity here is very much founded on the links between cutting edge scientific research and the expanding range of commercial opportunities.
‘The seaweed nursery at SAMS Enterprise, which of course is backed by the global scientific expertise of SAMS itself, is both innovative and crucial to the growth in Scotland’s seaweed industry.
‘It may also attract new investors into the EMSP business cluster, which would strengthen our regional economy.
‘I am very pleased we have been able to provide support and look forward to seeing the project develop.’
Mike Spain, head of SAMS Enterprise, said: ‘This very welcome support from HIE supports the ongoing work of SAMS in this emerging industry, which is a growing player in the ‘blue’ economy on the west coast of Scotland and further afield throughout the UK.
‘SAMS has been at the leading edge of global macro and micro algae and marine biotechnology research and development for more than 100 years and has been a trailblazer in seaweed farming for two decades.
‘This science-led expertise is translated to practical applications via our commercial arm, SAMS Enterprise, as we work to enable productive oceans, while safeguarding the marine environment.’
SAMS Enterprise is at the heart of the development of the seaweed industry which is part of Argyll’s wider aquaculture economy.