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Ministers given demo of French seaweed harvester

21 July 2016

​The Ministers for Infrastructure and the Environment have visited France to find out more about a seaweed harvesting machine and watch it in action on one of France’s north coast beaches.

Problems with sea lettuce are common throughout the world.  Both the Infrastructure and Environment departments have been investigating the causes of the periodic high amounts of the seaweed being washed onto our beaches.  They have also been exploring how other places deal with it.

During the visit, the ministers saw a specially built seaweed harvesting machine, one of only two in operation, which collects the seaweed in shallow water (500mm depth) before it comes to rest on the beach.  It is a huge, well-engineered and costly machine that provides a practical solution.

Contractors Agrival remove the seaweed and convert it into other products including fertiliser and animal feed. The ministers visited the factory where the seaweed is washed and prepared for the next process.

Possible trial

The machine used is considered too large for Jersey, but talks will continue with Agrival regarding the specification of a suitable machine. It is hoped that the French machine may be trialled in St Aubin’s Bay sometime in August to prove the concept. This is dependent on the availability of the machine and the cost of running the trial.

Seaweed is a particularly difficult material to handle and the environment of sand and salt water makes any engineering solution problematic.  Agrival’s machine provides solution which could potentially be adapted for use in Jersey.

Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Eddie Noel said “It was very impressive to see the French seaweed harvester in action.  It would be great if we can find a way to make a version of it feasible for use in Jersey.”

Minister for the Environment Deputy Steve Luce, said “I was particularly pleased to see that although the machine was very large, there was no damage done to the beach.”

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