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Plans for Sark seaweed farm could have multiple benefits

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A NEW seaweed farm off Sark would help the environment and employment, says its promoter.

George Clacy’s vision is to set up the farm just east of Little Sark, near Pot Bay. He first got involved in seaweed by using waste heat to make bath products from it 40 years ago.

‘Seaweed is amazing. It’s almost endlessly versatile. Vegetables grow better using it as a natural slug repellent from the salts and iodine in it. In France they use it in face scrubs, spas, you name it,’ he said.

If fed to cows in small amounts, research also showed seaweed reduced the production of methane in flatulence by up to 80%.

‘It could be as big as the tomato industry. There’s nothing bad about it. If seaweed products go down the drain it isn’t chemicals or micro-plastic. It doesn’t poison the soil, it helps the environment,’ Mr Clancy said.

He visited Hortimare in Holland, Algoplus in France, and the Scottish Association of Marine Science to obtain data from their seaweed farms.

‘Seaweed is a plant which sends out spores that can stick to twine and be run through a pipe to grow. At 30 weeks you get a harvest,’ Mr Clacy explained, ‘I used to work on an oyster farm. Oysters can get viruses and bacteria, but seaweed doesn’t.’

He added: ‘The Scottish Association of Marine Science suggested putting ropes of spores at different levels below the sea surface to test how it grows in Guernsey waters. Because it’s never been done before here, diagonal ones were suggested to test the best depth, to find where the best density growth layers are.’

These ideas are included within the diagrams of the experimental farm sites in the proposal.

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‘When I researched the benefits of seaweed I was amazed. It takes CO2 from the atmosphere, oxygenates and removes acid from the sea,’ said Mr Clacy, ‘not only that, seaweed creates biodiversity. A farm outside of a bay would act as a dampener for swell, and would bring more fish back to our waters. A seaweed farm would benefit local fishermen, the environment, employment and businesses. Those I’ve spoken to in Sark are very keen.’

The Pot Bay site was chosen with the help of experienced Sark fisherman Jordan De Carteret, who will likely help farm the seaweed if proposals are passed.

‘My final idea is to have a seaweed farm offsetting the Bailiwick’s carbon emissions and being of green credit,’ he said, ‘even a Michelin star chef is on board and wants to write a Guernsey seaweed recipe book, which would be great for tourism.

‘We can offset carbon emissions and get local businesses involved. In turn they’d get tax relief and everyone’s happy,’ Mr Clacy said. ‘I’ve got all these greenhouses up for it, and all these fishermen. All the packaging is within EU regulations, recyclable, and would be produced in Guernsey providing jobs.’

The proposals will be debated by the Sark Chief Pleas on Wednesday 22 January.

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