As part of the Climate Action Plan, the government will continue to support the development of the blue bio-economy through such projects as the Clean Oceans Initiative, and support the realisation of the value-add from processed marine biological resources. There is also a specific action in the Plan relating to the work of the National Bioeconomy Implementation Group.
It is also important to recall that the Plan will be monitored quarterly and updated annually, with a Climate Action Plan 2020 to be published in 2020. This will ensure that this Plan is a living document, with new actions being added each year to reflect on-going research and technological developments.
I am informed that at present the EPA has no specific research work being undertaken on the role of kelp in carbon sequestration. However, a recent 2018 technical research report by the EPA, Valuing Ireland’s Coastal, Marine and Estuarine Ecosystem Services, presents the data and methods used to estimate the value of a number of marine, coastal and estuarine ecosystem service benefits.
I understand that similarly, the Marine Institute is not directly involved in research on the role of kelp in carbon sequestration. The institute has seaweed research underway that is focused on the chemical constituents within certain species of seaweed, in particular, to examine arsenic speciation and other metals. They also have proposals under preparation, approved with funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, that are intended to examine methodologies of assessing total biomass of seaweed. This latter work should inform the role of seaweed in carbon storage, though it is not the primary focus of the work proposed and approved at present.
Finally, some current research projects which are examining the issue of seaweed and carbon sequestration include the GeniALG H2020 research project which is examining marine macro-algae as a means of carbon capture/sequestration, and the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway which is doing some related work on Ulva green macro-algae.