Seaweed seen as good new field
Scientists say the ocean off Queensland could host a significant seaweed-farming industry.
About 20-million tonnes of seaweed (worth over $6 billion) is produced globally each year, but there are no commercial seaweed operations in Australia.
University of the Sunshine Coast aquaculture expert Nicholas Paul says the ingredients are there to start an industry in Queensland.
“In a nutshell, we're trying to find Australian local species of seaweed, that are high value products, to start a new seaweed industry off the coast,” he told the ABC.
“If we can do that, that means we'll have some aquaculture growth other than salmon, because at the moment the only real growth is in the salmon industry down in Tasmania.”
Currently, 95 per cent of seaweed products are cultivated in farms.
“Half of it is used for edible products, just like sushi and wakame,” Mr Paul said.
“The other half of seaweed is being used to extract gels, and by gels we mean polysaccharides like Agar and Carrageenan.
“These are used as thickeners, they're used in everything from shampoo and toothpaste, to ice cream.”
Mr Paul said seaweed needs to feed in particularly sunny areas, just like the waters off Queensland’s Moreton Bay.
“There are 450 hectares of oyster lease area already zoned, and already in place in the bay,” he said.
“That area could produce around 70 tonnes of seaweed each year."
He said an industry could start in Queensland in as little as a year.
“There's a couple of species here that there's a huge demand for, and with the right funding we can actually scale up pretty quickly.”