Photos of the Long Island Sound

Issues & Actions

Seaweed Aquaculture for Nutrient Bioextraction in Long Island Sound

Researchers Charles Yarish and Jang Kim at the University of Connecticut have been growing seed stock of a native red seaweed, known as Gracilaria, in the Seaweed Marine Biotechnology Laboratory at UConn(Stamford) and the Bridgeport

Charles Yarish, a marine biologist from Universiity of Connecticut, second from left, is leading a team pull Gracilaria, a seaweed, attached on lines, off Bridgeport Harbor on Sept. 15, 2011.

Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center (BRASTEC). The objective of this pilot project is to demonstrate that seaweed aquaculture is a valuable bioextractive technology for LIS and other urbanized estuaries.

Seaweed Types

Gracilaria is a red seaweed, and a summer crop.  It is an economically important species (~ $400 million annual value) and is a commercial source of agar for the food and biotech industries

Saccharina is a brown seaweed, also known as sugar kelp, and a winter crop.  Kelp is the most widely cultivated species and can be eaten.  It is a source of alginates (colloid and biomedical).  It represents significant potential for the cultured sea vegetable industry in New England.

Potential applications & uses of biomass

  • Ecosystem Services, including habitat improvement and nutrient reductions
  • Hydrocolloids and Cosmeceuticals
  • Sea vegetables
  • Biofuel

Pilot Studies

Some of this seed stock has been out-planted at the BRASTEC’s off-shore research site near Fairfield, CT.  Gracilaria will also be deployed with a ribbed mussel raft system at the mouth of the Bronx River (near the Hunts Point Terminal, Bronx). This deployment at the Bronx River site is scheduled in August, 2011. A winter crop, the sugar kelp (Saccharina) will also be farmed at the Bronx River site after the summer crop, Gracilaria, is harvested in October . This pilot scale nutrient bioextraction research is funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund of Long Island Sound Study,  the New York State Office of the Attorney General through the Bronx River Watershed Initiative, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

For more information, contact Charles Yarish at charles.yarish@uconn.edu.

Learn More

Algae (Journal Article): Nitrogen allocation of Gracilaria tikvahiae grown in urbanized estuaries of Long Island Sound and New York City

National Public Radio story: Kelp For Farmers: Seaweed Becomes a New Crop in America

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