A state-of-the-art research facility in Adelaide is the first hub in the new national hatchery network being established to support Australia’s emerging seaweed farming sector.
The South Australian hub, near the Adelaide suburb of Henley Beach, includes advanced laboratory and outdoor seaweed growing facilities. Details of the second hub, in Queensland, are still being finalised.
Both will focus on the native red seaweed, Asparagopsis, which the Australian Government has prioritised for rapid research, development and cultivation due to its ability to reduce methane emissions from livestock when used as a stockfeed supplement.
The new Adelaide hub is a shared facility jointly operated by the peak industry body, the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), which is housing the hub.
It will help fill significant gaps in knowledge of Aspargopsis cultivation and address other challenges identified following a year-long review.
Overcoming technical issues
Dr Margie Rule, a senior phycologist and ASSA’s national seaweed hatchery network manager, says many growers have said they are being held back by a lack of access to basic cultivation information and expertise.
“Other technical issues include contamination of cultures, hatchery design and technology needs and seeding methodology,” says Dr Rule. The hatchery network is expected to alleviate these issues by fostering research and creating an environment to draft and share information.
“This cutting-edge new Adelaide hub will facilitate sector-wide collaboration, represents an important investment in the future of science in South Australia, and is bringing jobs to the state,” Dr Rule added.
Senior marine scientist Jo Lane will lead a dedicated team of ASSA researchers at the Adelaide site, who will also work together with SARDI's seaweed researchers.
The Adelaide hub has been specifically selected to grow the temperate zone Asparagopsis armata. A Queensland hub will focus on the tropical Asparagopsis taxiformis.
These key hatcheries will help companies to produce seaweed with the aim of helping the Australian Government meet national methane emissions reduction targets. They will also lay the foundation for a wider network to produce other seaweed species.
The Adelaide national hatchery network program is being delivered by ASSA and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) with funding from the Federal Government and support from key South Australian Asparagopsis producers ASSA members CH4 Global and CleanEyre Global.
The Australian seaweed industry growth aims to achieve $100 million in GVP (Gross Value Production) and 1200 jobs over the coming years, with the foundations now in place for a sustainable $1.5 billion industry set to deliver 9000 new local jobs by 2040.
To find out more about ASSA visit www.seaweedalliance.org.au