Seaweed Farming Growing in So. New England

Seaweed

ecoRI.org: Fifty years ago, Charlie Yarish was fishing on Long Island when he first took an interest in seaweed. Where the fishing was good, he found certain types of seaweed, and where it wasn’t so great, other types of seaweed gathered.

A spark was ignited for the young scientist, and Yarish took this excitement all the way to Dalhousie University in Halifax, where he was invited to participate in a three-month intensive field research program as an undergraduate. Yarish set out to answer all of his questions about this beautiful, diverse vegetation by growing it. Ultimately, the time he spent in Halifax change his life forever.

Today, decades of research and experimenting later, Yarish is known as the grandfather of the emerging sea vegetable farming industry in the United States. He is a professor of marine science at the University of Connecticut and runs a seaweed research lab out of the Stamford campus.

There’s really not a lot to argue about when it comes to seaweed farming. It’s good for the environment, good for human health and good for the fisheries economy.

Yarish recognized this early on and saw, that while scientifically possible, no large-scale seaweed production was happening in the United States the way it was in Asia. He set out to change that making it his goal to nurture East Coast kelp farmers by following an “open source” approach.

All new farmers have access to Yarish’s knowledge and research. In return, Yarish asks that each farmer make his or her products available to his research lab, so that he can continue to unravel the mysteries of seaweed and figure out the part it plays in marine biology.

Yarish puts it simply, “Sea vegetable farming has a great environmental benefit, while also providing a valuable commodity that is nutritionally beneficial.”

Read more about the growing seaweed farming movement in New England.