Lloyd’s Register Foundation has agreed a £500k grant to the world leading food sciences institution, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), supporting the Safe production Of Marine plants and use of Ocean Space (SOMOS). The project was developed jointly between LRQA, the Foundation and WUR, and is the first project targeted at the food sector to be funded by the Foundation. Vincent Doumeizel, LRQA’s Vice President Food, Beverage & Sustainability, will help steer the project by joining its advisory board.

Competition for maritime space is on the rise from a number of sources, including tourism, transportation, energy production, fishing and aquaculture. One solution is to share this space between multiple activities, which raises significant safety issues. This project aims to develop a meaningful safety assessment and controls for multiple simultaneous uses to enable the safe creation of energy sources and food at sea in the form of aquatic algae (mostly seaweeds).

Wageningen Research Project Leader, Dr. ir. Luc van Hoof, explains the potential impact of SOMOS: "As we are using our oceans and seas more intensively, can we further integrate use? Can we enable to have a true multiple and safe use of our sea space? In the SOMOS project we will develop a framework that will assist in developing this co-use of the seas, integrating different uses such as renewable energy production and novel food and feed production from seaweed, in a safe way by developing standards and safe operational practices. In this way we will address the global challenges of producing food, energy and efficient use of our waters to cater for the needs of the world population of 2050."

Although seaweed has been collected for centuries as a source of food and animal feed, logistics and safety issues have often hampered large scale production. Cultivation of seaweed presents a number of significant opportunities: It is a sustainable and efficient source of protein; it provides a natural desalination process; it absorbs carbon dioxide – contributing to greenhouse gas reduction; and its residue can be used to create energy through biomass.

Commenting on the project, Doumeizel explained, “I am extremely proud to be supporting Lloyd’s Register Foundation on the advisory board for this innovative project.” He added, “Providing enough fresh water and protein to meet the needs of a growing global population is a critical issue for us all. The current reliance on meat and soya has a significant impact on the environment and will become unsustainable as diets become richer– so it is exciting to be involved in research into viable alternatives.”

Vincent Doumeizel will give a presentation on building safety and resilience in the food sector at Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s flagship International Conference, being held in London on October 13-14 2016. The conference includes presentations from Nobel Prize winner, Sir Andre Geim, and former UK Government Minister, the Rt. Hon. Lord David Willets, among other notable speakers, covering topics relating to Lloyd's Register Foundation’s mission to protect life and property and to advance transport and engineering education and research.