EXCITED: USC seaweed researcher Associate Professor Dr Nick Paul has a seaweed farming trial about to start in Moreton Bay.
EXCITED: USC seaweed researcher Associate Professor Dr Nick Paul has a seaweed farming trial about to start in Moreton Bay. Contributed

Seaweed could be the region's next mega industry

IT HAS the potential to become a marine mega industry, so long as operators can keep those rascally 'rabbits' out.

University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor of Aquaculture Dr Nick Paul is preparing to roll out a seaweed farming trial in Moreton Bay this year, after 12 months of research and analysis.

More than 20 million tonnes of seaweed is farmed each year in Asia and Dr Paul said there was potential for it to become a thriving industry in Australia.

One of the only issues is that seaweed is a main food source for herbivorous species like rabbitfish.

Dr Paul said existing farms combat the effect of the rabbitfish by moving with the natural environment and targeting times and locations where rabbitfish and other schools weren't prominent.

Over the past year Dr Paul said he'd worked with a business marketing researcher, biologist and human nutritionist to work out how to create a new industry, what nutritional values it offered and what products could be created.

A survey of 500 Australian consumers about seaweed products found a split almost exactly down the middle of those who did and didn't eat seaweed.

Sushi was the most common product seaweed was used in, but Dr Paul said there was growing demand for seaweed salads and snacks.

Dr Paul said Australia had some of the most diverse seaweed in the world and he envisaged a direct market into Brisbane for successful Moreton Bay farms.

He said that model could work along much of the east coast and there was potential for exports.

"It is very healthy," he said.

He said seaweed was full of fibre and minerals like calcium, potassium and manganese.

Dr Paul hoped to grow the seaweed year-round once they started the trial and he said it could be harvested "every couple of weeks".



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