Science communication

2021.01.28

Poor conditions for algae cultivation in the Baltic Sea

Algae is described in a new EU initiative as a largely untapped resource that can be used to produce food as well as pharmaceuticals and biofuels, with a limited carbon and environmental footprint. However, in the Baltic Sea the opportunities are small for developing profitable algae farms in the near future.

A new EU initiative aiming at increasing the production and consumption of algae-based products is open for consultation. According to the initiative, algae cultivation can contribute to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and to the transition to a green, circular and carbon-neutral EU. 

In the Baltic Sea, inside Ă–resund and the Danish straits, the conditions for algae cultivation are unfortunately not as good as in many other European sea areas, due to the low salinity. The opportunities to develop a profitable large-scale algae cultivation in the Baltic Sea in the near future are thus very small. Extensive research and development are required for production to become functional and economically profitable. Some of the challenges concern limiting environmental factors and lack of space in many areas. 

If, through research and development, suitable species are found, algae production may also be relevant in the longer term in the Baltic Sea. Which species that are suitable depends on the purpose of the cultivation (biogas/feed/protein extraction et cetera). The cultivations that exist today in or near the Baltic Sea are to a large extent land-based, such examples are found for example in Simrishamn. 

In all planning and development of algae cultivation, it is important to consider possible conflicts with other uses of the sea. The permit process for conducting aquaculture in Sweden today needs to be reviewed to provide a fairer examination of, among other things, algae farms.  

The European Commission's consultation, including the roadmap, can be found here: Blue bioeconomy - towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector (europa.eu)