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Investment Boosts Aquaculture Innovation

Economics +1 more

AUSTRALIA - A James Cook University-developed innovation for enhancing the growth and quality of the tropical aquatic vegetable Green Caviar (Caulerpa lentillifera) is set to enter the lucrative Asian seafood market, thanks to a million dollar deal with South Pacific Seaweeds Pty Ltd.

The $1.4 million investment has been negotiated for JCU by the university’s commercialisation partner, UniQuest.

South Pacific Seaweeds is a private company formed by Queensland-based investor and aquaculture entrepreneur, Brian Russell. Mr Russell has worked extensively with Far North Queensland businesses and government departments to develop the region’s seafood industry.

In its primary market of Japan, Green Caviar or “Umibudo” is considered a delicacy. With its soft, succulent, ‘string-of-pearls’ appearance, the seaweed is a popular feature of the local cuisine. The plant’s texture, peppery taste, aesthetic and nutritional properties make it a favourite addition to salads and side dishes. The European and Australian markets are emerging in response to tourism and the growing ‘foodie’ culture.

Despite a relatively short cycle from planting to harvesting, seasonal conditions in Japan mean supply cannot meet demand, so the crop is then sourced from such countries as Vietnam and The Philippines. JCU researchers Prof Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul have developed a means of producing high-quality Green Caviar that can be grown and exported year round, with improved taste, shelf-life and appearance.

UniQuest Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development at JCU, David Ireland, said the investor was attracted by the significant competitive advantages of JCU’s Green Caviar operations, including Townsville’s dry topics temperature, sunlight intensity, and reliable water quality.

“It’s a great combination of environment, expertise, and economics,” said Dr Ireland. “As well as developing a new approach to cultivating one of the oldest edible sea plants, the researchers have been working on ways to extract the most value from the whole growing cycle, so in the future South Pacific Seaweeds could have a range of products and by-products to export to an expanding market.”

The intellectual property relating to the technology is subject to a patent application. Orders for South Pacific Seaweeds Green Caviar can be made by calling +61 7 4159 5904.