Hundreds of international scientists and industry experts will gather in Tasmania, the Australian island state, this week to discuss the untapped potential of seaweed, which is much more than just a nutritious side dish. From curing strawberry diseases to removing carbon from the atmosphere, seaweed has a variety of uses.
Karlotta Rieve, an aquaculture analyst, visited more than 100 seaweed farms over the course of six months to get a better understanding of the global market. She noted the effects of climate change on the industry and the opportunities for new markets. Her research also highlighted Australia’s leading role in methane-reducing additives and Northern Europe as a hot spot for seaweed.
It is the first time the symposium has been held in Australia, and organizer Catriona Hurd sees it as a chance to showcase the emerging seaweed industry and natural seaweed systems. Attendees will discuss controversial uses for seaweed, such as carbon removal, as well as how the Australian seaweed industry aligns with the Albanese government’s agenda. Additionally, more than A$8 million (US$5.5 million) was set aside in the federal budget to develop a seaweed that can be fed to cattle and drastically cut their methane emissions.
The conference will also explore the use of seaweed to grow tasty strawberries and the role of Indigenous communities in seaweed farming, as well as the impact of single-use plastics. Recent research revealed that strawberry plants sprayed with seaweed mix were boosted by up to 20 percent and in some cases, diseases were reduced by more than half.