Unlocking the power of seaweed - a potential $million Gippsland industry
When you think about eating seaweed you most likely think of seaweed on a beach or taste it in a sushi roll? Did you know, seaweed is a dynamic food source which presents a wide range of exciting applications from yoghurt thickener to animal feed, pharmaceutical compounds, fertilisers and even as a biofuel?
While we import most of our use in Australia – worldwide in 2020, seaweed was a US$16.5 billion dollar industry. With use increasing it is timely we investigate seaweed marketing opportunities in Australia.
A recent study by Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab in partnership with the Latrobe Valley Authority and Food and Fibre Gippsland, from January 2021-June 2022, investigated a first-of-its-type study in Australia as to the potential of a seaweed aquaculture industry in Gippsland. The study selected 10 seaweed species and found exciting results.
Food and Fibre Gippsland CEO Nicola Pero said the results are exciting. "There are multiple opportunities across the entire seaweed value chain – from the creation and maintenance of the seaweed hatcheries to harvesting the fast-growing crops, processing locally into a range of products and then distributing both domestically and internationally," Nicola said.
"With our clean, green, and trusted reputation for quality produce, the introduction of a Gippsland seaweed product would take our Gippsland Trusted Provenance brand offering to another level, and potentially profile the region to some lucrative new export markets."
Marine Scientist, Dr Paul Carnell from Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab and senior author of the report said “This report puts Gippsland on the front-foot to develop a sustainable and thriving seaweed aquaculture industry. We found in our surveys a diversity of species and locations that could be suitable for seaweed aquaculture in Gippsland and provide a shopping list for industry to choose the right species based on location and the desired end products."
Project Manager and Food Scientist, Elena Nauta, who worked on the study said: “A real strength in this work is the collaboration and contribution of voices and views from industry, local government, community, and research. The next workshop is open to all those interested in working together to maximise these exciting opportunities in the development of seaweed as a new and future market for Gippsland.”
Invitation to join
We invite you to join us on this exciting journey as we continue assessing seaweed aquaculture as a sustainable, profitable new industry for the Gippsland region. The first meeting of the Gippsland Seaweed Innovation Network will be held online on Tuesday 4th October to discuss study results and next steps.