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Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way

Faroese seaweed and Norwegian enzymes to spur the green transition?

Large-scale cultivation of seaweed off the Faroe Islands is currently attracting international interest. The product, which is sold to the food and feed industries and has benefits for the marine environment, was one of the examples of Nordic bio-based industries on display at the Global Bioeconomy Summit in Berlin in April.

The Nordic Council of Ministers and the government of Argentina were co-hosting a workshop on how to use biomass found in our seas as part of the transition towards a sustainable society.

Under the title Blue Growth: Seizing new opportunities for a sustainable future, speakers reported on the positive impact of large-scale cultivation of macroalgae on the marine environment, counteracting both carbon dioxide and eutrophication by nitrates from land-based agriculture.

“The fact that we grow our seaweed some way off the coast means that we can produce large volumes – and that makes our example interesting at international level. The development work has been conducted in close collaboration with a range of research institutions that transcend areas of specialisation as well as national borders, and is a prime example of innovative Nordic co-operation,” says Ólavur Gregersen, a sea-weed growing entrepreneur from the Faroe Islands.

Economies of scale

Professor Margareth Øverland of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences conducts research into the development of new ingredients for feed for both cattle and fish farms from renewable resources such as seaweed and tree biomass.

“The food supply of the future will require the sustainable production of animal feedstuffs. High-quality proteins can be produced from tree biomass and seaweed using advanced biotechnology such as microorganisms and enzymes,” she says.

According to Professor Øverland, the Nordic Region is part of the world elite in the economic and technical development of aquaculture. This puts the region in a strong position to make biomass an important part of the green transition.

Working together to develop the Nordic bioeconomy has been a key point in several of the annual programmes of the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in recent years. The Nordic Bioeconomy Panel has drawn up a proposal for a joint Nordic bioeconomy strategy, which will be presented this summer.

Photo 1:Johannes Jansson/

Photo 2: John Mark Arnold/Unsplash