Request > Macroalgae cultivation and ecosystem services

What is the state of knowledge regarding the potential of macroalgae culture in providing climate-related and other ecosystem services, focusing on knowledge gaps?

Requester: DG Maritime Affairs & Fisheries, Unit for Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment.


Type of request: Knowledge Synthesis

This request aims to explore and map existing knowledge and identify knowledge gaps and trade-offs, to inform future development of macroalgae culture strategies and policies. Furthermore, more knowledge is needed to evaluate impacts in terms of water, energy and land use, changes in sedimentation rates and structure of local communities, and potential pollution and risk of releasing invasive species into the environment and can contribute to the development, promotion and implementation of adequate and timely policy frameworks.

Reference: Request CfR.5/2020/1 

Expert Working Group
  • Rui Pereira (A4F, Algae for Future, Portugal) (co-chair)
  • Sander van den Burg (Wageningen Research, Netherlands) (co-chair)
  • Ricardo Bermejo (University of Cádiz, Spain)
  • Alejandro Buschmann (University of Los Lagos, Chile)
  • Elisa Capuzzo (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), UK)
  • Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK)
  • Anna Fricke (Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), Germany)
  • Ignacio Hernández (University of Cadiz, Spain)
  • Laurie Hofmann (Alfred Wegener Institute , Germany)
  • Vincent Doumeizel (United Nations Global Compact / Lloyd’s Register Foundation, France)
  • Olavur Gregersen (Ocean Rainforest, Faroe Islands)
  • Claire Hellio ( University of Western Brittany, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Biodimar, France)
  • Michele Stanley (Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK)
Contact points
  • KCB Focal Point: Ana Lillebø and Simo Sarkki
  • EMB Contact Point: Tânia Pereira and Marie Vandewalle

The issues related to macroalgae aquaculture touch upon different aspects of the Green Deal initiative:

a) Increasing EU’s climate ambition for 2050 (low emission food and feed production
b) the Farm to Fork strategy (through sustainable protein production)
c) the Zero pollution ambition (through the removal of nutrients and possibly other dangerous substances)
d) Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity (by enhancing the local biodiversity, but also through protection functions)
e) Supplying clean and possible affordable energy (through the production of biofuels).

Taking into consideration the variant areas where macroalgae culture can contribute in the Green Deal, but also the importance of the overall algae sector for the development of a sustainable European Blue Bio-economy, DG MARE is contemplating the development of an EU Algae Strategy. The results of the knowledge assessment will be used in the development of this strategy. Additionally, the identification of possible knowledge gaps or knowledge needs related to the subject will advise, through MARE, the development of relevant research activities under the next EMFF and Horizon Europe programs. The main policy context of this request is the European Green Deal.


Date request received: Apr 2020

Call for Knowledge (CfK): Sep 2020 to Nov 6th 2020

Call for Experts: Dec 9th 2020 to Jan 8th 2021

Experts selection: Feb 12th 2021

Experts Working Group kick-off meeting: Feb 22nd 2021

First meeting with the requesters and Eklipse KCB and methods experts: Feb 22nd 2021

First Version of the method protocol: Jun 15th 2021

Open review of the method protocol: Jun 21st to July 2nd 2021

Method protocol – Final version: Aug 10th 2021

Presentation of Initial findings by EWG to DG-Mare: December 14th


Scoping phase

The Document of Work (DoW) described the results of the scoping activities as well as the background of the request and was the basis for the call for experts.


Answering the request

Selection of an Experts Working Group (see above)

To answer this request, Eklipse sent out a Call for Expertise (CfE) and received 29 applications, from which 14 experts were selected in February 2021. These experts covered a broad range of expertise, gender and geographical representation to form the Eklipse Expert Working Group (EWG). One expert dropped out in the beginning due to unavailability. The EWG was asked if they wanted a replacement, but it was decided not to.

The next step was for the Expert Working Group to develop a methodological protocol based on the Document of Work (DoW), including the scientific aspect of a thorough literature search and possible appraisal. The methods protocol was open for public review until July 1st 2021.