Blueprint for a $billion Australian seaweed industry

AgriFutures Australia has announced a new project with the Australian Seaweed Institute to develop the blueprint for the emerging seaweed industry in Australia. The industry is forecast to create new coastal jobs, help to protect and regenerate waterways and contribute to greenhouse gas reduction.

“The current global market for seaweed products such as food, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, animal feed and fertiliser is estimated at over US$11 billion and is expected to double in value by 2025,” said Jo Kelly, CEO of the Australian Seaweed Institute.

“Australia has ideal growing conditions and a huge export opportunity for high-value bioproducts from native Australian seaweeds. And while there are a handful of entrepreneurs and researchers undertaking projects around Australia, there are no commercial scale seaweed ocean farms operating here and no strategic plan for industry development,” she added.

The Seaweed Industry Blueprint project is designed to unite existing seaweed research and aquaculture efforts into an action plan to accelerate investment and development. The project forms part of AgriFutures Australia’s Emerging Industries Program, which is focused on identifying and supporting the emergence of agricultural industries that can reach, or exceed, a $10 million per annum threshold in the next five years.

AgriFutures Australia senior manager, Emerging Industries, Tom McCue said “seaweed is an exciting emerging industry in Australia and we’re focusing our RD&E efforts to support the industry due to its high growth potential and ability to make a valuable contribution to the national economy.”

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has also positive about the future of this industry. Managing director Dr Patrick Hone said “there is enormous opportunity for macroalgae aquaculture and great value in developing the Blueprint. FRDC looks forward to working with AgriFutures and the Australian Seaweed Institute on the project and any future developments.”

“The opportunity for an Australian seaweed industry is really significant from an economic, environmental and social impact lens. Just one of the native seaweeds found off the Australian coast, Asparagopsis, has been shown to reduce methane emissions from cattle to almost zero when added to their feed. This is significant because more than 66 per cent of all agricultural greenhouse gases in Australia come from the digestion process of cattle.

“This single use for seaweed is incredibly exciting, but as the research into bioproducts from native Australian seaweed species is virtually non-existent, the potential for this industry to contribute to global health and nutrition while adding significant value to the Australian economy cannot be overstated,” said Kelly,

The initial objective of the blueprint is to outline the seaweed industry opportunity for Australia including a clear plan of action that will, at a minimum, deliver a $10 million industry by 2025. The second objective is to create an industry development blueprint with appropriate milestones to grow the industry to over $1 billion by 2040.

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