On 26th May, a half day conference was hosted by Algae-UK, BBNet and EBNet to showcase UK Sargassum research to an international audience. Hosted by Dr John Milledge and Dr Kirstin Covington, the event welcomed leaders in the field researching the challenges and opportunities of the Sargassum influxes in the Caribbean, Mexico and West Africa. A diverse range of speakers covered topics including the need for early warning and monitoring, economic opportunities from using Sargassum as a product, and damage that Sargassum can cause if let onshore or at the nearshore without clean-up.
SARTRAC had the opportunity to share our research vision and findings to date, with Prof Emma Tompkins outlining the project vision to generate positive outcomes from Sargassum events for the poorest affected communities, to ensure that the potentially large benefits flow to the affected communities who may also be dealing with the negative impacts. She described the creation of a long-term forecasting framework (SARTRAC-EFS), and the development of a Sargassum severity index for Jamaica. Prof Mona Webber and Dr Thierry Tonon outlined re-use opportunities that their research has been focused on, carrying out composition analysis on monosaccharide and uronic acid, antioxidant compounds and fatty acids, as well as testing Sargassum based composts for mangrove seedling production and wet nurseries.
The “Sargassum Golden Tides, a global problem” Conference provided a great opportunity to hear about ongoing Sargassum research in the UK, and for this research community to come together online. Many thanks to the organisers, and well done to all SARTRAC members who presented their work.