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SA fish and seaweed farmers join forces to reduce emissions

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Seaweed growing on three lines of rope hanging vertically in the underwater.
Asparagopsis being grown by CH4 Global on a marine site in South Australia. Photo: CH4 Global

A 3-year research project will evaluate how combining seaweed and fish farming can mitigate carbon-related emissions.

Partners in the new South Australian research collaboration are yellowtail kingfish farmer Clean Seas Seafood Limited and CH4 Global, a licensee and technology leader for the production and use of the red seaweed Asparagopsis in feed supplements to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

Clean Seas and CH4 say they believe the complementary production of kingfish and Asparagopsis will help offset the carbon and nitrogen output of aquaculture operations.

Nutrients in the water from the fish farming operations are also expected to act as a fertiliser, accelerating the growth and harvest of Asparagopsis.

Asparagopsis armata and Asparagopsis taxiformis are seaweeds that occur naturally in the waters of Spencer Gulf, South Australia. When used as a feed ingredient, Asparagopsis has been shown to significantly reduce the methane output of livestock with the potential to increase their productivity.

Commitment to infrastructure

Clean Seas will make available existing infrastructure at its Arno Bay hatchery on the Eyre Peninsula. CH4 will contribute the funding, intellectual property and operating capability to propagate and harvest pilot commercial quantities of Asparagopsis at the Clean Seas facility.

The project is expected to involve a seaweed nursery and land-based production trials using wastewater from the fish hatchery, as well as co-locating a crop with fish pens at sea. The seaweed crop will be evaluated for the biofiltration services it provides, removing nitrogen and other nutrients from the water.

Part of a recent $7.5 million grant to CH4 from the Australian Government’s ‘Securing raw materials’ program will be used to develop commercial, land-based ponds and tanks for the seaweed at Arno Bay. The pilot program is initially expected to run for three years, with the potential for extension.

In announcing the collaboration, Clean Seas’ CEO Rob Gratton says the company is proud of its sustainability credentials and is always looking to the future of sustainable aquaculture.

“This R&D collaboration provides us with the opportunity to encourage a new and emerging industry with the potential for meaningful environmental benefits for aquaculture and agriculture.”

CH4 CEO Dr Steve Meller says the agreement with Clean Seas Seafood represents the kind of innovation collaboration his company is pioneering in Australia and New Zealand.

“It is also an example of how Australian aquaculture businesses can work together on sustainable and strategic utilisation of ocean resources. As we further scale our commercial supply of Asparagopsis supplements, such collaboration also diversifies our portfolio of harvesting assets which already span tank and marine operations,” Dr Meller says.

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