The seaweed industry in Australia, which is forecasted to be a 10 million dollar industry by 2050, will create new coastal jobs, help 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 Ms Jo Kelly, CEO of the Australian Seaweed Institute.
“Australia has ideal growing conditions and a huge export opportunity for high-value bio-products 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,” Kelly said.
The project is not entirely new and has solid foundations – the goal being to unite existing seaweed and aquaculture research and efforts into a plan that will accelerate investment and development. And it is a part of AgriFutures Australia’s Emerging Industries Program.
Interestingly, 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 could assist in the target that Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) recently set, of achieving net carbon zero by 2030.
All major agricultural peak industry bodies, with the exception of horticulture, have expressed support for achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
“This single use for seaweed is incredibly exciting, but as the research into bio-products 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 second objective is to create an industry development blueprint with appropriate milestones to grow the industry to over $1 billion by 2040.