Updated: Jun 23, 2022
Momentum and membership are building for the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA), which celebrates its first birthday this month.
ASSA’s corporate members represent the 10 largest players in Australia’s emerging seaweed industry. They include AusKelp, Australian Seaweed Institute, CH4 Global, Fremantle Seaweed FutureFeed, Harvest Road, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Pacific Bio, Sea Forest and Tassal.
Among these members, there is a significant focus on developing farming and processing for the red seaweed Asparagopsis because of its potential to help mitigate climate change – it can all but eliminate methane emissions from cattle when used as a feed supplement.
ASSA chair Jo Kelly says Asparagopsis is certainly driving business interest and government support – and media attention – for the industry. However, the association has a much broader remit.
“ASSA aims to help scale up environmentally responsible commercial farming of seaweed to provide food, feed and bioproducts,” Jo Kelly says.
“And our affiliate members certainly represent a much greater diversity of interests. They include individuals and start-up businesses and represent research, aquaculture, investment, marketing and consumer sectors. We certainly welcome more members interested in any aspects of seaweed development in Australia,” Jo says.
“For example, in addition to what can be achieved through the farming and consumption of seaweeds, they also offer essential ecosystem services in the water. They can absorb nutrients and improve water quality – functions of growing interest to governments and existing aquaculture businesses.”
Building a network
Jo says ASSA aims to build a professional network, share expertise and lobby for policy and regulatory change to support the development of a seaweed industry in Australia. Much of this work is guided by the Australian Seaweed Industry Blueprint, released in 2020.
One of the main recommendations from the blueprint is to establish a network of hatcheries across the country to provide seaweed seed stock to those establishing farms. Jo highlights this as a priority for ASSA’s efforts in the coming year.
It will also ramp up engagement on government policies needed to accelerate industry development more broadly. Jo says ASSA has already received a pre-election commitment from the Albanese Government of $8 million funding over two years to support its activities. Details of the funding are still to be confirmed.
ASSA is a sponsor of the 24th International Seaweed Symposium in Hobart from 19–24 February 2023. It will host a PitchFest during the symposium, bringing together investors and seaweed companies to increase the flow of capital into the sector.
For more information about ASSA or to become a member, visit https://www.seaweedalliance.org.au. Corporate membership is $2500 a year. Affiliate membership is $250 a year.