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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Firm hatches 'veggie oyster' plan
Seaweed
Seaweed is being grown at a fish farm
A Scottish fish farm is attempting to mass produce seaweed so it can export the "vegetarian oyster" to restaurants across Europe and Japan.

The plan has been hatched at Loch Duart, a salmon farming company based in remote Scourie in Sutherland.

The company said that despite its rubbery appearance, the aquatic plant is very similar in taste to the more expensive oyster.

Seaweed has been an important part of the Japanese diet for more than 2,000 years and was used as a herbal medicine by the Greeks and Romans.

According to the managing director of Loch Duart, Nick Joy, seaweed is packed with vitamins and minerals and could help replace nutrients which salmon farming takes out of deep sea lochs.

'Early stage'

"It has a very sea-y taste, a bit like an oyster," he said.

"It's a very exciting idea because seaweed is very good for you, very nice to eat and can be eaten by vegetarians too."

The company's sustainably-farmed salmon is served in top London restaurants including Nobu and The Ivy.

It has also drawn acclaim from celebrity chefs including Rick Stein.

It took a long time to learn how to farm salmon properly and sustainably and it's going to take a long time for seaweed as well.
Nick Joy
Loch Duart
Mr Joy said demand for seafood was high at the moment, largely because of the boom in popularity of sushi across Europe.

His company is now aiming to expand seaweed production to around 200 tonnes annually within the next four years so that it can start exporting abroad.

But he warned that plans for mass producing seaweed on ropes were "very much at an early stage" because of the difficulty of cultivating it in bulk.

"We know it grows, the question is how to get the best quality and the right volume," he said.

"I tasted some from our ropes last week and it wasn't as good as the stuff in the spring.

"It took a long time to learn how to farm salmon properly and sustainably and it's going to take a long time for seaweed as well."


SEE ALSO:
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Is the veggie boom over?
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