A debate on « The sea, our future » will be held on Thursday 7 June at the Espace Ouest-France in Rennes. A dive into our maritime environment with the example of algae, an unsuspected deposit as Philippe Potin, scientist at the Roscoff biological station explains. Interview with Philippe Potin, CNRS research director at the Roscoff biological station
Algae abound on coasts, but specialists are turning instead to cultured algae to preserve the environment.
Why are we interested in algae?
Algae have long been used in Brittany. We remember the burning of the seaweed in the past to produce soda. Or algae collected on the foreshore to amend the land. Later, these activities declined, they were replaced by new applications, in thickeners or gelling agents. Then in the cosmetics industry, thanks to active algae.
Do algae have a future?
Absolutely, they offer resources for tomorrow. In agriculture, for example, algae-based solutions have been found to make plants more resistant. It is also an alternative to pesticides, as algae can strengthen the plant’s immune system. They can also limit the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. In the Orkney Islands, in the north of Scotland, sheep graze algae…
Are they an inexhaustible resource?
You might think so when you see the proliferation of green algae in Brittany, or the brown tides in the West Indies. These phenomena are a problem, they are unpredictable and algae decompose rapidly when they wash ashore. They can then be toxic. Algae are interesting, including for human nutrition, provided they are harvested alive and not stranded.
Philippe Potin, CNRS research director at the Roscoff biological station. West France.
How to meet future needs?
In the future, cultured algae will take precedence over harvest algae. In order not to depopulate the coasts, it will be necessary to develop algoculture with innovative processes. Growing algae at sea can lead to conflicts of use with other professionals, such as fishermen. The idea is to favour solutions on land, in basins. In Brittany, it will thus be possible to rehabilitate old live-well tanks which have now been abandoned.
Can we talk about a new sector of activity?
Yes, several activities can even be integrated on the same site: seaweed culture with mussel and oyster farming, for example. To develop this new economy, we must not repeat the same mistakes as in agriculture. Producers must be properly compensated so that they strive for excellence and added value. For that, the Brittany Region will have a role of impulse to encourage this sector, with these new workers of the sea.
Source : https://www.ouest-france.fr/mer/la-mer-notre-avenir-les-algues-sont-une-mine-d-or-pour-demain-5797106