Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

FS2S_Transition to a sustainable marine LTA protein production system

A worldwide protein transition is urgent and relevant from sustainable, economic and ecologic perspectives. In order to feed the growing human population, mankind cannot continue with a protein production chain that overexploits soils, destroys biodiversity, pollutes air and water and relies on fossil fuels and pesticides “From Sea to Society” will initiate an alternative marine protein production chain based on combined, off-shore seaweed and mussel cultivation, i.e. low trophic aquaculture (LTA), in balance with the marine ecosystem. This transition will be guided by social innovation where the consortium will form a learning community, and where economic and ecologic incentives will be leading.  

Expert scientists, industry partners and marketing leaders will collaborate closely to enable a full production chain for LTA, leading to the key impact of this project: Transition to an efficient, intensive LTA with combined seaweed and mussel cultivation, producing functional protein for human consumption.  This is supported by highly needed breakthroughs (i) to produce high seaweed biomass yields with high protein content through selective seaweed breeding using sterile sporophytes, (ii) to model and monitor combined off-shore seaweed and mussel cultivation that is economically and ecologically sound and (iii) to realise an efficient and mild enzyme-assisted extraction of seaweed biomass to produce functional protein.

This new marine protein production chain will diminish eutrophication in coastal waters, stimulate CO2 -uptake and marine biodiversity and can be combined with other activities in the marine environment such as wind or solar energy production, thereby contributing to a sustainable future.

NIOZ part: Selective breeding of sterile sporophytes of Saccharina latissimi.
The NIOZ work aims to get a profitable and sustainable business case for cultivating seaweed. This is dependent on the increase of kelp biomass that can be reliable harvested on a yearly basis. A sustainable business case attracts investors and this market pull is necessary to solve the scientific and technical challenges of kelp farming that still lie ahead.  Breeding kelp varieties has proven to be a very efficient way to get to higher yields. Especially sterile varieties have a potentially enormous impact on the seaweed sector, since it will allow us to utilize the full potential of kelp breeding, while at the same time preserve the natural environment. Here we aim to increase kelp biomass yields with 30% in order to get to the realistic quantities needed for a sustainable business case for investors to invest in.

Smart breeding of S. latissima will be performed in the assumption that it will lead to more biomass and higher protein yields. With the assumption that selectively bred seaweeds will give higher yields, bred S. latissima can improve the business case for the farmer significantly. And the joint use of the cultivation site (as in FS2S, combined seaweed and mussel cultivation), expertise and optimized starting material, leads to cost effective production of biomass. Furthermore, the combined under water cultivation, without use of freshwater, fertilizers or pesticides and attractive for tourism, education, provides an inspiring example of “seagriculture”. The breeding will be done by selection, non-GMO, and sterile sporophytes will be produced that cannot interbreed with natural populations, preventing gene flow into the marine ecosystem.

Project information
Linked department:
Netherlands Organization for S…
1 Apr 2022 - 31 Mar 2026
  • Dutch Seaweed Group
  • Hortimare, The Netherlands
  • North Sea Farmers, The Netherlands
  • Roem van Yerseke
  • Stichting Zeeschelp
  • Wageningen Food Safety Research (WUR), The Netherlands

Meet the team

Timmermans, Klaas
Head of Scientific Department
Cohen, Job
PhD student