Laminaria saccharina (Sugar kelp)


Type of fouling organism: Brown Algae

Algae include several groups of relatively simple, eukaryotic, living aquatic organisms that capture light energy with different pigments and use it through photosynthesis to convert inorganic substances into organic matter. Algae vary from small, single-celled species to complex multicellular species, such as seaweeds. Seaweeds live in the sea or in brackish water occupying both the inter and sub-tidal. The algae can be distinguished by the different pigments into three basic colours: red, green and brown. There are about 2,200 species of brown algae and most are marine. Typically, brown algae are larger and more species are found in colder waters. The kelps are the largest and the most complex in this group and are the only brown algae with internal tissue differentiation. The giant brown kelp is harvested for use in commercial products such as toothpastes, soap, ice cream, and a range of other applications.

Laminaria saccharina is a large yellowish brown kelp growing to approximately 3 m long. It has a small smooth cylindrical and flexible stipe with a ribbon like frond which is frilly and undivided.

Environment and Habitat

- sublittoral to depths of 30m with the greatest abundance at the low water mark on sheltered shores. Also found in deep rock pools.
- High intolerance of desiccation, smothering, substratum loss, change in wave exposure and changes in salinity.
- Intermediate intolerance of changes in nutrients and temperature, displacement and abrasion.
- Low intolerance of changes in suspended sediment, water flow rate and turbidity.


- Reproductive type: Alternation of generations.
- Reproductive frequency: Annual.
- Development mechanism: Spores.
- Age at maturity: 15 - 20 months.
- Life span: 2 - 5 years.


- Solitary.
- Non-migratory.


- Stock species particularly shellfish.
- Fishnets, cages, pontoons, shellfish trays, tanks, pipes, pumps and filters.

Effects and Impacts

- Problematic for stock species as can compete for space and resources.
- Can obstruct the opening of bivalve shells and nets.
- Can reduce the value of shellfish.
- Increases the weight of equipment.
- Increases labour and production costs as a result of cleaning and removal of biofouling.

Control/ Strategies and Management

- Onshore Net washing
- Coatings (Copper sulphate, fouling release coatings e.g. silicon)
- Mechanical cleaning of infrastructure (Disk cleaners)
- Air drying nets
- Manual cleaning (scrubbing and/or brushing)
- Low power washing
- High power washing
- Jet washing
- Air drying
- Lowering trays below photic zone during major spatfalls
- Biological Control (Sea urchins and periwinkles)
- Coatings (Copper sulphate, fouling release coatings e.g. silicon)
- Manual Cleaning
- Mechanical Cleaning
- Hot water 55oC for 5 seconds (Stock mortalities of ca 5% with this method)
- Dipping (Freshwater or chemical solution)
- Lowering lines below photic zone during major spatfalls
- Biological control (Sea urchins and periwinkles)
- Coatings (Copper sulphate, spiky coatings, fouling release coatings e.g. silicon)

Principles of Management

C Combat Settlement
P Protect Equipment and Stock
R Remove Biofouling


- Found on Atlantic coasts from north of Norway down to northern Portugal.


White, N. & Marshall, C.E., 2006. Laminaria saccharina. Sugar kelp. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 05/02/2007]. Available from: species/Laminariasaccharina.htm

Laminaria saccharina (Linnaeus) Lamouroux descriptions/lamsac.html

Hayward P, Nelson-Smith T & Shields C (1996) Seashore of Britain and Northern Europe. HarperCollins Pubs.

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