Action Plan for the Development of a South Australian Seaweed Industry

Action Plan for the Development of a South Australian Seaweed Industry

Anthony Cheshire (Balance Carbon Pty Ltd, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5577-3.ch006

Abstract

The fundamental challenge in developing a South Australian macroalgae industry sector is that in Australia almost every funding mechanisms that would typically provide support for the under-pinning research and development (e.g., ARC linkage grants, Cooperative Research Centre grants, AusIndustry grants, etc.) rely on existing industry participants to invest. The plan outlined in this chapter is expected to break this nexus. The plan will be resourced through a funding bid to the state government, with the funds then being deployed against the respective project components with additional leverage on funding from cognate agencies, institutions, and granting bodies. It is expected that the work that underpins this book will also trigger a CRC bid.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

The fundamental challenge in developing a South Australian seaweed industry sector is that in Australia almost every funding mechanisms that would typically provide support for the under-pinning research and development (e.g. ARC Linkage grants, Cooperative Research Centre grants, AusIndustry grants etc) rely on existing industry participants to invest. Industry investment is seen as the basic test of the level of commitment by participants that are likely to be the first order beneficiaries of public sector investment.

In essence, there is a Catch-22 situation when trying to catalyse industry development in a field without existing industry participation, the absence of industry means there is no capacity to demonstrate matching contributions or in-kind support and as a result public funding is typically not available. This means that there are no resources to develop the basic policy, regulatory and technology frameworks that would then enable industry participation.

The plan outlined in this chapter is expected to break this nexus. The plan will be resourced through a funding bid to the State Government, with the funds then being deployed against the respective project components with additional leverage on funding from cognate agencies, institutions and granting bodies. Such an approach is expected to allow South Australia to provide leadership in a sector where there exists a substantial, but as yet unrealised, comparative advantage and is expected to catalyse significant commercial development that will follow the public-sector investment.

As previously detailed, Southern Australia is globally renowned for the richness and uniqueness of its macroalgal flora. There exist more than 1,155 species of which around 62% are endemic (unique to this geographical region). By way of comparison, this diversity is around 3-4 times higher than the number of species of corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is generally acknowledged as the highest level of regional diversity of any macro-algal flora anywhere in the world.

Notwithstanding, Australia currently makes only very limited commercial use of this rich suite of species. Over the last forty years only one species, Durvillaea potatorum, has been consistently harvested in any substantial quantities (typically around 2,500 to 3,500 dry tonnes per annum). More recently a few new species have been investigated for commercial production but none of these are being exploited at anything other than artisanal levels. This situation contrasts strongly with other areas of the world (e.g. China) where harvest tonnages and the range of species utilised are orders of magnitude greater than is found in Australia. Globally production is in the order of 27 million wet tonnes (approximately 4.5 million dry tonnes) which makes Australia a very small player on the global scene.

The development of an aquaculture based seaweed industry would link to the overall objectives of the Australian National Aquaculture Strategy (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2017). This strategy has identified 8 priorities aimed at supporting the growth of the industry which include:

  • 1.

    Promoting an efficient regulatory framework.

  • 2.

    Maximising the benefits of innovation through targeted research, development and extension.

  • 3.

    Developing and improving market access for Australian aquaculture products.

  • 4.

    Understanding and managing biosecurity risks.

  • 5.

    Improving public perception and understanding of Australian.

  • 6.

    Continuing to improve the environmental performance of aquaculture.

  • 7.

    Encouraging and promoting investment in Australian aquaculture.

  • 8.

    Improving training and education for the aquaculture workforce and ensuring future employment needs of the industry are met.

Collectively these priorities are largely consistent what has been outlined over the course of this book and would be expected to provide a nurturing environment for a fledgling industry.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset