6/25/2018 1:29:57 PM News

Uist Asco increase harvesting rewards

Uist Asco Dryer

Uist Asco. North Uist, Scotland, UK - Alvan Blanch Conveyor Drier CD22000

Reviving the traditional art of seaweed harvesting is set to bring new jobs to the rural community of North Uist.

The Outer Hebrides on the far west of Scotland has a long and proud history of harvesting seaweed. In the 1980s, seaweed harvesting was a common sight on the coasts of Uist, before being shipped to Girvan for use in the alginate industry. This practice gradually died out as synthetic alginate was discovered.

Now, thanks to the vision of Ragnall Maclain and his family, who founded Uist Asco to harvest seaweed for plant and animal feed, this tradition is being revived.

Canadian bio-tech company Acadian Seaplants Limited acquired Uist Asco in 2017. Acadian Seaplants is the largest independent manufacturer of marine plant products of its type in the world, with its focus being the sustainable harvesting and processing of wild seaweeds. 

Uist Asco, is pleased to announce that, effective immediately, the rate it pays to Harvesters for the seaweed they collect and sell to the company has increased.

“Since acquiring Uist Asco, Acadian Seaplants has invested in the local seaweed processing facility to ensure the manufacturing equipment could accommodate the volume of Knotted Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) local Harvesters can potentially sell to the production facility for processing into value added products,” said JP Brien, Project Manager for Uist Asco.

While Uist Asco underwent its refit, the company held two public information sessions to attract potential Harvesters and followed up with several harvest training sessions to ensure the Harvesters conduct a safe and sustainable harvest.

Uist Asco’s Resource Scientist, Malcolm Gibson, has been conducting biomass assessments, based on scientific methods used by Acadian Seaplants, to create plans for the sustainable harvest of North Uist’s Knotted Wrack resource “We are now ready to put our seaweed processing equipment to the test and are looking to add additional Harvesters so we can increase the volume of Knotted Wrack going through the plant,” adds Brien.

To help Uist Asco attract more Harvesters to the local harvest, it conducted research on local remuneration rates and subsequently increased the rate it pays from £28 to £32 per metric tonne and introduced a new bonus structure based on volumes harvested. “It should be mentioned that no seaweed harvesting experience is necessary; we will provide all training to ensure the Harvester is successful and his or her earning potential is maximized,” he said. Uist Asco recognizes that seaweed harvesting is a time-honoured tradition on the Islands and the company is honoured to play a part in sustaining its noble history.