Briana Warner wins Alnoba Environmental Leadership Award; Belize aims to turn sargassum seaweed into diesel alternative

Briana Warner award

SeafoodSource is closely following seaweed innovation by compiling a regular round-up of updates from the sector.

-Briana Warner, the CEO of Biddeford, Maine, U.S.A.-based seaweed company Atlantic Sea Farms, was awarded Alnoba's World Environmental Leadership Award. 

“The work that we are doing [at] Atlantic Sea Farms is innovative [and] people- and planet-focused. To have our work celebrated in this way was such an honor, and I am so inspired by the other Alnoba awardees like Franziska Trautmann, Ruchira Gupta, and Celia Xakriaba,” Warner wrote on LinkedIn. “This beautiful award is now sitting in my office reminding me every day that we are truly making a difference.”

Warner joined Atlantic Sea Farms in 2018 and previously worked at the Rockland, Maine-based Island Institute as economic development director. 

-Belize has allocated USD 50 million (EUR 47 million) for a new pilot project to turn the sargassum genus of seaweed into biofuel by opening a new facility. 

Prime Minister of Belize John Briceno announced the country has joined a public-private partnership with Redefin, Germany-based waste processing company Variodin to conduct this project, according to Reuters.

The facility will convert both solid waste and sargassum seaweed into biofuels as a diesel alternative.

"The sargassum seaweed invasion [is] causing economic, social, and environmental wreckage across Belize and the Caribbean. Removal is a vicious cycle of never-ending sargassum, a cycle that removes the seaweed but also the sand, causing further damage to the coastline," a spokesperson for Caricom, an intergovernmental Caribbean organization representing 15 full-fledged member nations including Belize, said in a release, noting that 24 million tons landed on Caribbean coasts last year, hitting the tourism and fishing industries and people's health.

-A recent study by the University of York located in York, England, has revealed that ancient Europeans ate seaweed and freshwater plants. 

Researchers found “definitive” evidence proving human consumption of seaweed along with other freshwater plants dating back from the Mesolithic Period through the Neolithic Period into the Early Middle Ages.

“Not only does this new evidence show that seaweed was being consumed in Europe during the Mesolithic Period around 8,000 years ago when marine resources were known to have been exploited but that it continued into the Neolithic when it is usually assumed that the introduction of farming led to the abandonment of marine dietary resources,” University of York Researcher and Professor Stephen Buckley said. “This strongly suggests that the nutritional benefits of seaweed were sufficiently well understood by these ancient populations that they maintained their dietary link with the sea.”

The study, which was published in Nature Communications, allowed researchers to examine biomarkers from 28 archaeological sites across Europe from 74 individuals. The conclusions found “direct evidence for widespread consumption of seaweed and submerged aquatic and freshwater plants,” according to the release. 

“Today, seaweed and freshwater aquatic plants are virtually absent from traditional, Western diets, and their marginalization as they gradually changed from food to famine resources and animal fodder probably occurred over a long period of time, as has also been detected elsewhere with some plants,” Researcher and Professor at the University of Glasgow Karen Hardy said in a release. “Our study also highlights the potential for rediscovery of alternative, local, sustainable food resources that may contribute to addressing the negative health and environmental effects of overdependence on a small number of mass-produced agricultural products that is a dominant feature of much of today’s Western diet and, indeed, the global long-distance food supply more generally.”

Photo courtesy of Briana Warner/LinkedIn 


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