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Australia's $100 million seaweed farming ambition

14 September 2020, at 11:32am

Plans to kickstart a $100 million seaweed farming sector have been launched in Australia this month.

The Seaweed Industry Blueprint outlines a plan to grow a $100 million industry by 2025, creating thousands of jobs in regional towns and providing an opportunity to reduce Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

The publication came the same week that Seaweed Solutions CRC-P brought in its first harvest of three species, including giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera).

“Whilst relatively modest in scale, this harvest is both exciting and significant - it shows that we can take Australian seaweed aquaculture from a concept into a real commercial operation. The whole team would like to thank everyone involved from Tassal Pty Ltd, Spring Bay Seafoods, University of Tasmania and Deakin University – a great team effort,” said the company in a press release.

Tassal seaweed biologist Dr Craig Sanderson was on hand to check the seaweed as it was collected.

"This is a great outcome and while we still have a long way to go to get the production we would like, the kelp we brought in yesterday is commercial product quality,” he said.

IMAS associate professor Catriona Macleod, who heads the research team, said the harvest was achieved despite many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We couldn’t have done this without the industry/research collaboration, which is why CRCs are so unique and important. Our next step is to get some product out to the markets and see what they think,” she said.

Deakin University's Dr Alecia Bellgrove, a specialist in seaweed product quality, said the research team was keen to analyse the composition and quality of the three species harvested.

"We hope that this can show us not only the potential of these seaweeds for food and agriproducts but also how the Australian species grown in clean cool waters off Tasmania differ from those grown elsewhere,” she said.

Lloyd’ register foundation has identified seaweeds as a major new source of protein and key to global food security while the Seaweed manifesto outlines how seaweed can contribute to delivering on the sustainable development goals and defines a vision for the industry globally.