A row over commercial kelp dredging on Scotland’s west coast has inspired a new research project from an Aberdeen university.
Academics at Aberdeen University will team up with those in Japan to look at the ecology and politics of coastal societies.
The ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)-funded research stems from a review of the regulations around the harvesting of kelp in Scottish waters, which was announced by the Scottish Government at the end of last year.
A row erupted over an application by a firm to collect 30,000 tonnes of seaweed off the Scottish coast.
Professor David Anderson, who will lead the project, said: “We aim to build a network to examine the social and political context surrounding the harvesting of seaweed, with special attention to traditional rights and methods of building a ‘blue economy’ which encourages better stewardship of our ocean resources.
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“The controversy surrounding the commercialisation of seaweed harvesting off the west coast brought the potential conflict between communities and industry in this area to the fore.
“In Japan, seaweed has been an important part of the economy for centuries and they have significant experience in working with local communities.
“We want to investigate that experience and see what lessons can be learned in Scotland which can inform how we move forward.”