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Farmed Seaweed Could Feed Abalone

SOUTH AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA - Eyre Peninsula abalone companies could soon benefit from a different kind of feed for their produce as a result of a new research project launched by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

The project, which also involves scientists from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide, will look at growing seaweed on land that has the potential to be used as abalone feed, reports Port Lincoln Times.

Currently, importing seaweed costs Australia more than $15 million a year.

SARDI project leaders, Steven Clarke and Dr Sasi Nayar, said the small quantity of seaweed currently available in the state was only obtained once it washed up onto beaches.

"The best way for the industry to grow is through aquaculture," Mr Clarke said.

Dr Nayar said a large part of the project would be developing a seaweed-based manufactured product that could be used to feed abalone.

"As an abalone feed, a modest 10 per cent replacement of manufactured feed with the seaweed could lead to savings for growers of about $200,000 per annum on a typical farm," Dr Nayar said. "Some seaweed species are also a gold mine of chemicals of pharmaceutical interest (bioactives), with about 15,000 having been isolated so far, some worth many thousands of dollars per kilogram."

Abalone Investment Ltd, which runs abalone farms near Elliston, is one of five South Australian abalone companies collaborating with SARDI on the project.

Funding of more than $1.14 million has been provided by the Premier's Science Research Fund for the project, and researchers hope it will allow seaweed producers to crack the annual $8 billion worldwide industry.

According to Port Lincoln Times, SARDI is also working on a separate seaweed aquaculture project that aims to farm seaweed in conjunction with sea-based finfish farming to help reduce the environmental footprint of fish farming.

the Fish Site Editor

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