--> Seagriculture Conference USA 2022 speaker: Eliza Harrison

Seagriculture Speaker

Seagriculture USA

7 - 8 September 2022

Portland, ME, USA

MACROSYSTEMS – critical hurdles and regulations for offshore cultivation of Macrocystis pyrifera.

Eliza Harrison, Program Manager, Ocean Rainforest, CA

About the speaker:

Eliza Harrison is the Program Manager for Ocean Rainforest, Inc. Since January 2020, she has co-led the implementation of a three-year research program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to assess the feasibility of seaweed cultivation in southern California. Eliza is responsible for a variety of community engagement and research-oriented tasks, which include coordinating with state and federal agencies, presenting to local commercial fishing groups, performing market research, supporting hatchery and ocean operations, etc. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Health Science from the Gilling School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill.

Company info: 

Ocean Rainforest, Inc. (ORI) is the prime contractor for the MacroSystems project: an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy designed to demonstrate the feasibility of offshore cultivation of Macrocystis pyrifera (i.e. Giant Kelp). During the three-year period, ORI will develop and upscale the necessary technology and machinery to de-risk the full supply chain from propagation to planting, cultivation and harvesting. By our work in Southern California, the ORI team has come to understand some of the critical hurdles the industry must overcome to realize its economic, social and environmental benefit. This presentation will shed light on the importance of building social license and developing a regulatory framework for the seaweed industry. 


Building on work done in the Faroe Islands with S. latissima, ORI implemented the methodology for direct seeding with M. pyrifera gametophytes. The team also designed a state-of-the-art cultivation system ideally suited for offshore conditions. In the U.S., seaweed cultivation is not yet well understood as a regenerative form of biomass production. The growth of the industry therefore relies on continued engagement and education with relevant stakeholder groups. Similarly, regulations surrounding seaweed permits or leases vary dramatically across states. In California, for example, permit applications are subjected to an extensive, costly and convoluted review while areas of the Northeast maintain more well-defined and streamlined processes. Working alongside the international community to help address these two key challenges, ORI intends to help catapult the industry into a new phase of regenerative growth and sustained impact. 



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