Auskelp Developing Golden Kelp Ocean Farms

  Algae Europe December 2022

According to Auskelp, ocean kelp are the “rainforests” of the ocean. Photo: Auskelp

Auskelp’s mission is to build Australia’s first large-scale environmentally friendly kelp and seaweed enterprise. The company has just received preliminary approval for its first 200-hectare ocean lease in Australia to grow Ecklonia radiata; more commonly known as Golden Kelp.

Golden kelp is a naturally occurring kelp that grows in the cooler waters of Southern Australia. It is a high-value, sustainable, zero-input algae that does not require fertilizer, pesticides, or chemicals to grow.

Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth. It is also recognized as the most environmentally friendly form of aquaculture. A fully grown seaweed array can sequester up to 18 tons of CO2 per hectare. A 200-hectare seaweed array will sequester 3,600 tons of carbon per year. The average Australian uses 20 tons of carbon per year, therefore offsetting the carbon output of 180 people.

In May of 2021, New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries approved Auskelp’s 200-hectare ocean lease in Disaster Bay, NSW, conditioned upon obtaining State Significant Development consent from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. This regulatory process has now commenced and includes an Environmental Impact Survey (EIS) and a community consultation process.

“The Australian seaweed industry could be worth $1.5 billion by 2040 and employ 9,000 people.”

In addition, Auskelp has begun parallel planning and construction of a purpose-built hatchery and dedicated kelp processing facility located in Edrom NSW, on Twofold Bay. When completed, these world-class facilities will provide avenues for other kelp farmers to begin operations in NSW.

The Eden 1 Project will deliver commercial food products, feed for livestock, fertilizer, and the potential development of kelp-based biofuels. End user products will include high value protein foods for human consumption and methane-reducing feed for cattle. The Project will create 40 direct jobs within two years of regulatory approval and capital expenditure exceeding AUD $5m.

Developers claim this will be the first commercial ocean kelp farm off the NSW south coast and that it will create a “brand new industry.” Agrifutures, a government sponsored funding source for research and development in Australian rural industries, published an Australian Seaweed Industry Blueprint which estimates the industry could be worth $1.5 billion by 2040, and employ 9,000 people.

This has “never been done in New South Wales waters before,” said Auskelp CEO Christopher Ride. “In fact, it has never been done in an ocean farming setting in Australia at all.”

Auskelp is currently researching additional locations in Australia and New Zealand for the licensing of commercial brown kelp farms.

Source: Auskelp

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