Aquaculture for all

Australia's top 10 seaweed firms form industry alliance

Biotechnology Climate change Seaweed / Macroalgae +6 more

Australia’s first trade body for the commercial seaweed industry has officially been launched this month.

Pia Winberg and Gordon Wallace are among Australia's emerging seaweed pioneers

The country has a promising seaweed sector © ACES

The Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) represents ten corporate members across six states and was launched to advance environmentally responsible seaweed farming, strategic research and development, and scientific and biotech-related commercialisation.

This includes fast tracking methane emission reducing Asparagopsis (red seaweed) production to help meet the Australian Government’s important emissions reduction targets.

ASSA’s founding partners are CH4 Global, the University of Tasmania, FutureFeed and the Australian Seaweed Institute and other members include AusKelp, CleanEyre Global, Fremantle Seaweed, Harvest Road, Pacific Bio, Tassal and recent global Earthshot Prize 2023 finalist, Sea Forest.

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has also been integral to ASSA’s formation and continues to provide investment for strategic management and delivery of seaweed industry RD&E priorities supporting the ongoing sustainability of Australia’s aquaculture and aquatic ecosystems.

Ambitious targets

The emerging industry is on target for rapid growth, with ASSA’s Australian Seaweed Industry Blueprint forecasting $100 million gross value of production and the creation of 1,200 direct jobs in regional and coastal communities in the coming years, laying the foundations for a potential major $1.5 billion industry set to create 9,000 jobs by 2040.

Chair of ASSA, Jo Kelly believes, if adequately supported by research and development investment, a growing seaweed industry could make a sizeable contribution to achievement of the National Aquaculture Strategy and support Australia’s post-Covid economic recovery.

“ASSA’s mission is to scale up environmentally responsible commercial farming of seaweed to provide food, feed and bioproducts. Development of seaweed cultivation at scale is the single biggest opportunity for rapid industry growth and optimising social and environmental outcomes,” said Kelly in a press release.

The Australian Government has committed $8 million to the Developing Australia’s Seaweed Farming Program to support investment in the Australian seaweed industry and scale up the production of seaweed as a livestock feed supplement to reduce methane emissions, including funding to support ASSA. The Program is being delivered by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and ASSA to plan and co-ordinate research and development, biosecurity and the development of a national hatchery network. FRDC will also provide competitive grants to support other research, development and extension (RD&E) activities to accelerate the growth of the seaweed industry in Australia.

“Given the right policy settings, Australia is exceptionally well-placed to play a leading role in this economically significant and environmentally sustainable major global scale up,” said ASSA’s inaugural general manager, Lindsay Hermes.

A recent World Bank Report found that over the short and medium term, some of the most promising new segments for this sector include bio stimulants, nutritional supplements, bioplastics, fabrics and importantly, methane-reducing livestock additives,” Hermes added.

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