From the Dundee Courier 18th of May 2019
“Since meeting up with Jayson Byles on a beach in the East Neuk, I’ve bathed in bladderwrack and crafted myriad dinners from various species of foraged seaweeds.
Jayson, a professional seaweed harvester, is a man bursting with passion and enthusiasm. He’s a man who, at first sight, resembles Captain Jack Sparrow, with his flailing dreadlocks, sparkling eyes and ready smile.
Like Jack Sparrow, Jayson is brave and dedicated to his mission – not of slaying pirates of the Caribbean, but of finding his very own treasures in the North Sea.
He moved to the East Neuk three years ago after being offered a management position for a commercial seaweed company. Unhappy with the amount of plastic the company was producing, and keen to pass on his skills of self-sufficiency, Jayson set up East Neuk Seaweed this year.
I’m lucky enough to have Jayson all to myself on a sunny, but extremely chilly, morning in April. We meet at Kingsbarns beach and after a quick briefing, we head down to the rocky shore.
“Most of the action happens in the inter-tidal zone, so the best time to harvest is during the lowest tides, known as ‘spring tides’,” he explains.
We’re on a mission to find an array of seaweeds and when we do find them, we need to harvest them sustainably. That means not ripping out the “holdfast”, the structure that attaches seaweed to rocks and allows it to grow again.
Jayson cutting some seaweed making sure to leave the holdfast intact.
Our first find is bladderwrack, an iodine-rich form of kelp that’s been used medicinally for centuries.
“Put this in a bath and your skin will feel amazingly moisturised,” advises Jayson, plonking a huge handful of the slightly sinister looking stuff into a bag.
Having tasted and loved pepper dulse previously, I whoop with excitement when Jayson finds it in abundance and invites me to pluck some straight from the rocks.
“Try that in a stir fry later if you don’t eat it all raw first,” laughs Jayson.”
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