Algae, Microalgae & Seaweed

Aquaculture Startup Sea&Believe Announces Launch of Inaugural Seaweed Farm in Ireland

Aquaculture startup Sea&Believe has achieved a significant milestone with the launch of its inaugural seaweed farm in Connemara, Ireland. The company develops ingredients for the food and skincare industry using Palmaria palmata, a red seaweed native to the Atlantic, which is notable for its rich nutrient profile, boasting a protein content of 23%, which surpasses the average 17% typically found in fish.

“Despite its challenging reproductive cycle, for scaling up this seaweed, we’ve found the perfect conditions along the rugged coastline of County Galway”

According to the company, the seaweed cultivated on the Sea&Believe’s farm is recognized for its myriad health benefits, including antiviral, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties. It also contains Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA), contributing to its status as a nutritionally complete plant-based product.

The farm also contributes to the revitalization of marine life and aids in the restoration of the marine ecosystem in Connemara. This initiative is expected to boost local fish stocks, including mackerel, and contribute to carbon drawdown, thanks to the ocean’s nutrients, swell, and currents.

© Sea&Believe

Jennifer O’Brien, founder and CEO of Sea&Believe, announced the launch of the farm on social media, stating, “Despite its challenging reproductive cycle, for scaling up this seaweed, we’ve found the perfect conditions along the rugged coastline of County Galway, a prime location and the wonderful team has worked hard perfecting the reproductive & cultivation techniques.”

Next phase for Sea&Believe

The next phase for the company involves the implementation of innovative infrastructure solutions to enhance the stability and sustainability of the seaweed farming process. This includes using flexible, durable materials for suspending nets and controlling buoyancy during storms.

In the past year, Sea&Believe’s team has conducted extensive research, collecting 6,000 samples of Palmaria palmata from Ireland’s west coast. These efforts have been directed towards understanding seasonal changes in the seaweed’s reproductive cycle. The company is now exploring new applications for Palmaria palmata in both food and skincare products.

© Sea&Believe

Applications in plant-based seafood

In the realm of food, Sea&Believe states that Palmaria palmata offers benefits such as high iodine content for thyroid function, antioxidant properties, heart health benefits, anti-inflammatory effects, and omega-3. Additionally, it has a distinctive taste, texture, and smell that resembles that of fish, making it well-suited for applications in plant-based seafood. In an interview with vegconomist, O’Brien stated, “On our doorstep, we have available in abundance this amazing aquatic ingredient that imparts a natural umami ocean flavour.”

Sea&Believe initially joined IndieBio’s accelerated research program in 2022 and developed a prototype for plant-based whole cod filets using Palmaria palmata. However, the company was seeking funding to scale the ingredients and build out its supply chain. Currently, Sea&Believe is working on skincare applications, preparing to launch a “beauty from within” brand, and offering complimentary samples in the coming weeks.

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