Sea Grant Project Yields Kelp Harvest in Long Island Sound

Mar 5th, 2012 | By | Category: Top Story

GROTON, CT — Kelp farming and harvesting is now a reality in Long Island Sound, as a result of a Connecticut Sea Grant research project led by Dr. Charles Yarish. Yarish is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut in Stamford.  The first crop of farmed kelp in Long Island Sound was harvested on February 14, 2012.

Kelp is a seaweed that is used for food, alginate extraction, and other products such as animal feeds and fertilizer.   It also has significant potential as a biofuel.  Using  techniques that the research team has developed, kelp is cultured at UConn’s Stamford campus in Yarish’s laboratory using special seed string wrapped around PVC pipe and then deployed in the Sound on longlines.   The kelp grew from sporelings that were less than 2 milllimeters–about the size of a pinhead–in December 2011, to 1 meter (3.38 feet) long in just two months.  The kelp grows very quickly in winter, as seen by the rapid harvest.   Harvesting is easy; take the boat out and haul in the ropes.

As an outreach offshoot of the project, Yarish’s team has started a similar system at the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture School and Technology Education Center (a specialized high tech high school)  in Bridgeport, CT.

As it grows, the seaweed uses nutrients from the water to grow healthy tissue, just like farmers use nitrogen fertilizer to grow tomatoes and other food crops.   Shellfish or fish farmers could add kelp to their existing efforts as a second crop and also clean the waters by removing the excess nitrogen in urban coastal waters.  The research team is developing a manual and a CD which will be made available online by Sea Grant, for growing kelp and other seaweed species.

Connecticut Sea Grant, at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, supports coastal and marine research, outreach and education.  It is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program.

For more on Connecticut Sea Grant’s seaweed farming efforts, see

http://seagrant.uconn.edu/publications/magazines/wracklines/fallwinter11/dream.pdf.   Please contact peg.vanpatten@uconn.edu for photos of the kelp planting and harvest.

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2 Comments to “Sea Grant Project Yields Kelp Harvest in Long Island Sound”

  1. Joanne Cwikla says:

    Are there tests to check for contaminants ?

  2. Paula Panzarella says:

    As someone who uses various dried kelps and seaweeds in recipes, this is great news! I like buying local products and look forward to these kelp beds bringing local products to the markets. HOWEVER, let’s keep the kelp beds away from any of the waters around the nuclear power plants. I don’t want to have any radiation-laden kelp products in the food chain. Thanks for working on such a great project!

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