Diversifying the New England sea vegetable aquaculture industry: modification of kelp nursery and grow-out technology for nori production
Chris Neefus, Professor of Biological Sciences, UNH (603.862.1990)
There is an established market in the U.S. for the red sea vegetable nori, used most commonly for sushi. In New England, nori is harvested from the wild, dried and sold through multiple retail channels. However, demand for nori currently exceeds supply. One species of North Atlantic nori, Wildemania amplissima, is a species that grows during the spring and early summer and is capable of growing on long-lines in a similar manner as sugar kelp that grows during the winter months. The current lack of knowledge about optimum nori aquaculture techniques has thus far been a barrier to large-scale production of this species in New England.
Neefus will utilize many of the same techniques he established in his previous NHSG-funded research for multi-trophic aquaculture to develop techniques and procedures for growing nori on long-lines. After collecting nori from several sites, researchers will establish laboratory cultures and determine optimum light, temperature and daylength parameters for blade growth on seed strings, along with optimum conditions for nursery production. Researchers will also develop simple string seeding procedures similar to kelp seeding methods and will conduct field grow-out trials at sites in Maine and New Hampshire. In addition, researchers plan to develop a manual, a video and workshops to demonstrate nori nursery and long-line grow-out methods and production.
Establishing long-line nori production protocols will allow New England kelp producers to diversify their operation with a crop that will extend their growing season while utilizing their existing equipment. Aquaculture businesses and retail markets will benefit from these protocols and from the expanded sea vegetable market. Combining kelp and nori production will allow for more efficient utilization of resources and longer-term employment for seasonal personnel who work in the sea vegetable industry.