As a promising emerging industry, Tasmania is leading innovative research trials exploring the benefits of commercial seaweed farming in the state.
Seaweed Farming in Tasmania
Seaweed farming is an emerging commercial industry for Australia. It offers promising potential for innovations in products such as animal feed, fertiliser, biofuels and food, as well as bringing benefits for the environment, employment and industry.
Tasmania is at the forefront of Australia’s seaweed industry, leading several seaweed farming research trials working to test and demonstrate the benefits of seaweed farming on a commercial scale.
Tasmania has diverse marine ecosystems with over 750 species of seaweeds allowing for a wide range of seaweeds to be farmed for cultivation. Key species include:
- Asparagopsis armata
- Ecklonia radiata (Golden Kelp)
- Durvillaea spp. (Bull Kelp)
- Macrocystis pyrifera (Giant Kelp)
- Sargassum spp.
- Lessonia corrugata (Tasmanian Kombu)
- Ulva spp. (Sea Lettuce)
- Caulerpa spp., Chaetomorpha spp., Codium spp. (edible green seaweeds)
Seaweeds are a vital food and habitat source for marine life. To protect Tasmania’s ecosystems, native seaweeds cannot be taken directly from the ocean.
On the east coast of Tasmania, a small amount of non-native seaweed is harvested from the wild, while Tasmania’s Marine Plant Fishery allows for the collection of native seaweed cast onshore.
This is different from seaweed aquaculture, which takes place through two types of cultivation:
The most common method for seaweed cultivation is through long-line aquaculture, where seaweed is grown on ropes suspended in water. Seaweed spores or seedlings are attached to the ropes, which are positioned at varying depths according to the light and nutrient needs of the species.
Some small to medium-sized species of seaweed can be cultivated using nets, which are secured in shallow waters in estuary or near-shore locations.
Seaweed can be cultivated in raceways, tanks or pond facilities, where it is grown to the desired size before being harvested. Land-based cultivation offers the ability to control environmental factors such as light, temperature and nutrient supply, however it is a space, energy and cost-intensive option.
Land-based facilities are primarily used to support sea-based cultivation, for example by seeding ropes with spores or growing seedlings to attach to ropes in long-line aquaculture.
Seaweed FAQsHow can I establish a seaweed operation?
The first step to establishing any aquaculture operation in Tasmanian waters is to review the existing Marine Farming Development Plan covering the area of interest, which contains information about each aquaculture zone, the available leasable area and its requirements and allocated species.
Before proceeding further, you are advised to contact the Aquaculture Branch. As every application is different, a staff member will explain the process in full and discuss options relating to your specific enquiry.
Where can I buy seaweed products?
The Aquaculture Branch does not provide recommendations about where to buy seaweed products, however there are many active retailers in Tasmania. We recommend conducting your own searches online to source seaweed products.
Can I forage seaweed from the beach?
The Department does not consider seaweed found on beaches to be food-safe as it is not possible to predict how long the seaweed has been beach-cast or whether it may have come into contact with contaminants.
Limited recreational harvest of beach-cast seaweed for other purposes is permitted under certain conditions. Find more information about seaweed collection on the Fishing Tasmania website
Where can I find more information about Tasmanian seaweed farming?
Some useful resources relating to seaweed farming in Tasmania include: