Seaweed has long been a staple ingredient in cuisines around the world, and is increasingly popular among Australian food lovers. But few people know that large-scale seaweed production could help combat climate change – or that the first steps towards achieving this are happening right here in Moreton Bay.
USC seaweed scientist Dr Nick Paul has established a laboratory at Bribie Island to explore seaweed production off the Queensland coastline. While seaweed is the largest aquaculture crop in the world, none is grown commercially in Australian waters, and Dr Paul said Queensland was ripe for a new ocean-based industry that was beneficial to people and the environment.
“I’ve been inspired by what I’ve seen overseas, where seaweed is farmed as a traditional food and as a global commodity that is worth billions of dollars annually,” he said.
Dr Paul’s previous research has involved investigating which types of seaweeds to grow, how to farm them and what they can be used for.
“There were some unusual outcomes – seaweed salads, jellies, pickled food, compost, cosmetic creams and even weight loss options,” he said.
While seaweed has gained mainstream interest in Australia, where it is touted as a superfood or a key extract in cosmetic and health products, Dr Paul said that many people don’t know about its ability to produce oxygen, absorb nutrients and reduce carbon dioxide, potentially helping to address climate change.
Some of his previous research in Far North Queensland involved using seaweed to clean wastewater for fish and prawn farms, helped prompt fledgling land-based seaweed farming in Australia.
The new laboratory is located at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Bribie Island Research Centre. Set on 15 hectares at Woorim, the facility is home to DAF, CSIRO and now USC science teams conducting aquaculture and fisheries research with direct, industry-wide application.
Local residents can expect to see more real-world research in the Moreton Bay Region as USC works towards opening its brand-new campus at Petrie in 2020. For more information, visit the USC Moreton Bay website.
Pictured: USC gets behind local event - Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival 2018.