Published: 18 March 2024 Updated: 18 March 2024
Table of contents

Application timeline

  • Open 18 March 2024
  • Close 11.59pm (AEST) 10 April 2024 (unless otherwise stipulated)

Refer to the requirements before applying for any of the opportunities below.

 


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All applications MUST be completed via FishNet so that FRDC receives notification that the application has been submitted.

Applications not submitted by this date may not be accepted unless prior approval for a later submission date is provided by the FRDC.

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Contact

If you have any questions or issues with FishNet, please contact the FRDC by phone (02) 6122 2100 or email frdc.programs@frdc.com.au

Mr Lindsay Hermes, CEO, ASSA should be contacted if additional information is sought on any of the projects below (lindsay.hermes@seaweedalliance.org.au). 

 

Opportunities

 

Title 

Review of the potential for blue carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and biodiversity credits for the Australian Asparagopsis seaweed industry 

Need 

Global carbon emissions are continuing to impact the climate, and major emitting companies, and well as industries where emissions are unavoidable, are searching for offset and crediting solutions. Considering that carbon must be sequestered for 100 years to be allocated the status of being a credit with kelp reafforestation, rather than seaweed farming, the more likely. However, it is unlikely that many seaweed solutions could address this need. However, it is undeniable that the seaweeds represent an effective tool for carbon absorption from the atmosphere, and thereby they are considered as an important component of Blue Carbon. 

In the case for feeding Asparagopsis to ruminants, this seaweed can reduce up to 90% of cattle methane emissions, but emitted carbon reduction is already allocated to the cattle industry. Although the carbon is not sequestered permanently in Asparagopsis, there is little information on the credits of carbon absorption in the produced biomass along the cultivation process. For example, in-sea cultivation of seaweed on ropes results in a continuous loss of biomass to the marine environment (i.e. not harvested), due to its fragmentation and separation from ropes caused by herbivores and water movement, as well as seaweed senescence at particular times of the year. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has provided guidelines on how to calculate emissions and removals from coastal wetlands. Albeit the measurement models deployed for sea forest restoration still confront several questions, Japan has taken into account of the carbon absorption of seaweed and seagrass as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, there is much interest in other solutions that use seaweed to sequester carbon, such as locking up carbon in building materials, sinking seaweed into the deep ocean, and determining the potential for fragments of farmed seaweed to reach great depths or be incorporated into sediments where it is sequestered, or is retained in sediments, including seagrass meadows and accretional coastal areas. Seaweed farming at commercial scale represents a new chapter of blue carbon to confront the climate change impact in Australia.   

Seaweeds are also a useful means to assimilate inorganic phosphorus and nitrogen, which are often elevated in coastal waters due to anthropogenic causes. Ecosystem biodiversity has also been highlighted to be greater around rope culture (used primarily in western countries for farming mussels), as compared to the environment adjacent or prior to the establishment of such infrastructure. 

A number of publications have suggested that the establishment of nitrogen, phosphorus and biodiversity credit schemes might be more likely and provide substantially greater financial return to seaweed famers than for carbon. 

With more attention on the blue carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen and biodiversity associated with seaweed farming it is important that ASSA and government regulators have a detailed understanding of these matters and an opinion/stance on the potential for the Australian seaweed industry to benefit from the establishment of aligned credit schemes, as well as the potential accreditation of products. This is particularly true of the emerging Australian Asparagopsis industry. 

This initiative is also in line with the goals of government’s new decarbonation work plans and broader discussions of obtaining credits for seaweed farming. 

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include: 

  1. A detailed review of existing research, theories and proposed policies to provide a recommendation as to the position that ASSA and government regulators should hold regarding blue carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and biodiversity credit schemes with respect to seaweed farming and potential accreditation of products. 
  2. A final report and presentation to ASSA that includes recommendations and their basis, as well as potential solutions for industry and government so as to move forward on these matters.  

Particular focus is to be on Asparagopsis, but the project should encompass a broader range of seaweeds of present interest to the Australian seaweed industry (i.e. Ecklonia, Ulva and other select red algal species) and their potential uses/applications. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Initially to the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) and Australian and State Government policy developers and regulators (e.g. the National Seaweed Working Group, Australian Fisheries Management Forum), then more broadly to the Australian seaweed industry. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those states with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 2: Best practices and production systems 
  • Outcome 5: Community trust, respect and value 

Other 

Approx funding level: $150K 

Background publications: 

  • Chopin, T., Costa-Pierce, B.A., Troell, M. et al. (2024). Deep-ocean seaweed dumping for carbon sequestration: Questionable, risky, and not the best use of valuable biomass. One Earth. 
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2024.01.013 
  • Filbee-Dexter, K., Feehan, C.J., Smale, D.A. et al. (2022). Kelp carbon sink potential decreases with warming due to accelerating decomposition. PLOS Biol 20:e3001702. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001702 
  • Filbee-Dexter, K.and Wernberg, T. (2020). Substantial blue carbon in overlooked Australian kelp forests. Sci Rep 10:12341. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69258-7 
  • Fujita, R. Augyte, S., Bender, J. et al. (2023). Seaweed blue carbon: ready? Or Not? Marine Policy. 155, 105747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2023.105747 
  • Pessarrodona, A., Franco-Santos, R.M., Wright L.S. et al. (2023). Carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation using macroalgae: a state of knowledge review. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12990 
  • The Climate Foundation. (2023). Marine permaculture, sinking and storage of deep blue seaweed biomass carbon in Australian EEZ waters. AgriFutures Publication No. 23-112, Project No. PRO-015109, 40pp. 

 

Title 

Investigating the Biofilter/Bioremediation potential of seaweed aquaculture, with a particular focus on Asparagopsis 

Need 

Seaweed utilises nitrogen, phosphate and trace minerals for growth and photosynthesis, and thus has the potential to remediate wastewater, or clean polluted systems through cultivation. Asparagopsis has been highlighted in previous studies for its biofilter potential in wastewater from farmed aquatic animals. There is also discussion about growing Asparagopsis, and other seaweed species, in high nutrient areas and/or polluted locations, such as near finfish pens, or around inputs into the Great Barrier Reef (ASI), respectively. The use of Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is well investigated, but has only minimally been trialled in Australia, or with Asparagopsis. Currently, Pacific Bio have functioning systems utilising Ulva to remediate prawn farm and municipal wastewater. 

This project will focus on understanding how Asparagopsis, and other species of value, utilise nutrients and determine if this is at a rate that is useful for remediation, as well as considering the potential safety risks associated with the seaweed products produced from such environments. This work will ideally be undertaken for both tank- and sea- based cultivation.  

This work will also benefit those seeking licensing and leases as they can determine the potential nutrient discharge to the environment from both on-land and sea-based cultivation, which for in-sea finfish farmers would help provide evidence to support the ‘trade’ with government aquaculture regulators of farming seaweeds to extract nutrients from the environment with increasing finfish carrying capacity on existing leases or within existing farming zones. 

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include: 

  1. A report detailing the potential for Asparagopsis based on experimental and/or modelling data, to offer bioremediation services to other industries, or for restoration purposes. 

The information produced will be made available to growers through the NHN handbook. It is also expected that at least one scientific journal article will be published detailing this work. It is also desirable if contractors consider the broader range of seaweeds of present interest to the Australian industry (i.e. Ecklonia, Ulva and other select red algal species). 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Initially to the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) that are farming seaweed for remediation purposes and Australian and State Government policy developers and regulators (e.g. the National Seaweed Working Group, Australian Fisheries Management Forum) addressing the accreditation of bioremediation activities through seaweed cultivation, then more broadly to the Australian seaweed industry. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those state with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 2: Best practices and production systems 
  • Outcome 5: Community trust, respect and value 

Other 

Approx funding level: $125K 

Background publications: 

  • Schuenhoff A, Mata L, Santos R (2006). The tetrasporophyte of Asparagopsis armata as a novel seaweed biofilter. Aquaculture 252:3–11 
  • K. H. Wiltshire, J. E. Tanner, C.F.D. Gurgel and M. R Deveney. (2015). Feasibility study for integrated multitrophic aquaculture in southern Australia. SARDI Publication No. F2015/000786-1, SARDI Research Report Series No. 883, FRDC PROJECT NO. 2010/201. 115 pp. ISBN: 978-1-921563-86-7 
  • Hadley, S., Wild-Allen, K., Johnson, C. and Macleod, C. (2018). Investigation of broad scale implementation of integrated multitrophic aquaculture using a 3D model of an estuary. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 133, 448-459. 
  • https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.05.045 

 

Title 

Establish an on-line portal where Australian seaweed industry members can find contact details and useful associated information to facilitate state and federal government permitting of seaweed related activities 

Need 

Sourcing and completing seaweed permitting is typically State Government based and complex, an on-line portal will help facilitate the process for those seeking to complete permit applications.  

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include an updatable on-line portal that contains: 

  1. Contact information for state and federal government agencies associated with seaweed permitting. 
  2. All paperwork (or links to) for applying for seaweed wild collection for broodstock, harvests, leases, licences, processing, sales (including export) and therapeutic use for diseases and pests. Also include translocation information if this is available. 
  3. A bibliography (or links to) of relevant documents to support applications for permits (e.g. biosecurity, environmental matters, food safety and governance). 
  4. Facts and/or Question and Answer section(s) so those undertaking the permitting process, both government and industry, can add information and experiences to facilitate industry persons undertaking the processes. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Australian seaweed industry, both entrants and existing members. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those state with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture and wild collection (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA).  

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 

Other 

Approx funding level: $150K 

Background publications: 

  • Kelly, J. and MacLeod, C. (2023). Seaweed aquaculture governance in Australia: A review of state and Northern Territory seaweed aquaculture policy. AgriFutures Publication No. 23-014, Project No. PRO-016088. AgriFutures, Wagga Wagga, NSW, 2650. ISBN 978-1-76053-354-0 ISSN 1440-6845 
  • The National Seaweed Working Group, Australian Fisheries Management Forum is useful to liaise with as its membership include state and federal government representatives addressing Australian seaweed policy. 

 

Title 

Establish an on-line portal containing material that can be used by educators, the industry and media to increase awareness and enhance industry’s social licence to develop and operate Australian seaweed aquaculture 

Need 

With aquaculture of the red seaweed Asparagopsis spp. presently driving development of the seaweed industry in Australia, there has been found to be a general lack of public knowledge of seaweed aquaculture. There have also been increasing concerns arising overseas about large-scale seaweed farming developments (e.g. on-farm and adjacent ecosystem changes and suitability of products for planned uses).  

This project will provide the availability of information to the education sector for use in teaching (primary, secondary and tertiary), and for industry, the media and relevant government policy groups (e.g. National Seaweed Working Group, Australian Fisheries Management Forum). It should provide a balanced perspective of the development and operations of seaweed aquaculture, from farm to market. 

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include an updatable on-line portal that contains: 

  1. Information on the nature of existing and likely future Australian seaweed aquaculture (e.g. onshore and in-sea; nearshore and offshore; and Asparagopsis, Ecklonia and Ulva). 
  2. Popular and scientific information highlighting the benefits (e.g. increased biodiversity from rope culture and use as a livestock feed ingredient to reduce methane production) and challenges (e.g. changed farm environment, and fate of bromoform and impact on ozone/safety) of seaweed farming.  
  3. Facts and/or Question & Answer section(s) that addresses commonly asked questions. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Australian educators, seaweed industry and media. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those state with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 3: A culture that is inclusive and forward thinking 
  • Outcome 4: Fair and secure access to aquatic resources 
  • Outcome 5: Community trust, respect and value 

Other 

Approx funding level: $100K 

Background publications: 

  • Hurd, C.L., Wright, J.T. Layton, C. et at. (2023). From Tasmania to the world: long and strong traditions in seaweed use, research, and development. Botanica Marina, 66, 1-36.
    https://doi.org/10.1515/bot-2022-0061  
  • Kelly, J. (2022). Marine seaweed aquaculture risk assessment AgriFutures Publication No. 23-024, Project No. PRO-015761. AgriFutures, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650  
  • Ross, FW.R., Boyd, P.W., Filbee-Dexter, K. et al. (2023). Potential role of seaweeds in climate change mitigation. Science of the Total Environment, 885. 
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.163699  

 

Title 

Formulate a comprehensive framework to inform relevant regulatory bodies on safety regulations and legislation pertaining to food, feed, and other forms of bioproducts of Asparagopsis spp. and other seaweeds of key interest to the Australian seaweed industry 

Need 

There are currently no mandatory safety testing requirements for domestically produced Australian seaweed and minimal for imported seaweeds. With aquaculture of the red seaweed Asparagopsis spp. presently driving development of the seaweed industry in Australia, but a few other species underway (e.g. Ecklonia sp. and Ulva spp.) there needs to be a comprehensive reassessment and strategic examination of safety regulations and legislation pertaining to food, feed, and other forms of algae and bioproducts of these species. This will fill in gaps identified by previous work undertaken in this field, formulate a conceptual understanding of what is required to move matters forward and establish a relevant framework to inform such regulatory bodies as the APVMA, FSANZ and DAFF, as well as SafeFish. This is something that has been advocated by a number of authors of recently published scientific journal papers and reports (see below). 

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include: 

  1. A document outlining a comprehensive reassessment and strategic examination of relevant safety regulations and legislation pertaining to food, feed, and other forms of algae and bioproducts of Asparagopsis spp. and other key species of interest to the Australian seaweed industry (e.g. Ecklonia sp. and Ulva spp.) that: 
    • demonstrates a conceptual understanding of the topic, 
    • identify gaps in knowledge identified by previous work undertaken in this field, and 
    • presents an up-to-date framework to inform such regulatory bodies as the APVMA, FSANZ and DAFF, as well as SafeFish. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Australian government policy developers and regulators addressing the development of seaweed aquaculture and wild harvest. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those state with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 2: Best practices and production systems 
  • Outcome 5: Community trust, respect and value 

Other 

Approx funding level: $190K 

Background publications: 

  • Camer-Perci, B.M, Laird, D, van Keulen, M. et al. (2023). Opportunities of Asparagopsis sp. cultivation to reduce methanogenesis in ruminants: A critical review. Algal Research 26(1). 
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.algal.2023.103308  
  • Eason, C.T. and Fennessy, P. (2023). Methane reduction, health and regulatory considerations regarding Asparagopsis bromoform for ruminant. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00288233.2023.2248948  
  • Trigo, J.P., Palmnäs-Bédard, M., Vall-Llosera, M. et al. (2023). Effects of whole seaweed consumption on humans: current evidence from randomized-controlled intervention trials, knowledge gaps, and limitations. Frontiers in Nutrition.  
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2023.1226168  
  • Winkel, C. (2022). Development of a seaweed food safety program to meet the requirements of Food Standards Australia New Zealand and third-party hazard analysis and critical control points certification. AgriFutures Australia Publication No. 23-011, Project No. PRJ-012985. Wagga Wagga NSW 2650. 32 pp. 

 

Title 

High value bioproduct screening in Asparagopsis 

Need 

Some Australian Asparagopsis growers are already looking to diversify outputs and value-add beyond using the biomass produced as a livestock feed ingredient. In addition to its anti-methane properties, the biomass produced contains a range of compounds suitable or possibly suitable for the production of such products as: biomaterials, cosmeceuticals, fertilisers, human food, nutraceuticals, pigments, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals.. High-value bioproducts can significantly subsidise the farming cost for producing the functional livestock feed through diversification of production focus. The use of a biorefinery approach to value-add Asparagopsis processing, marketing and reduce wastes is likely to be beneficial and reduce business risk for the Australian Asparagopsis industry and as such this would be useful to investigate.  

Deliverables 

Deliverables will include: 

  1. A review of the relevant literature to determine the potential bio-products that can be produced from Asparagopsis and document this as a bibliography with relevant summary information for each report. 
  2. Analytically screen and report useful Asparagopsis spp. chemical compounds where gaps in information are identified to the extent that project funds and time allows. 
  3. Develop and report on a potential optimal biorefinery model to maximise Asparagopsis production profitability, as well as environmental and social benefits. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025  

End user 

Initially to the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) and then more broadly to the Australian seaweed industry. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those states with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 2: Best practices and production systems 
  • Outcome 5: Community trust, respect and value 

Other 

Approx funding level: $125K 

Background publications: 

  • José, M. S., Ponte, Seca, A.M.L. and Barreto, M.C. (2022). Asparagopsis genus: what we really know about its biological activities and chemical composition. Molecules 27(6), 1787.
    https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27061787 
  • N. Nunes, N., Valente, S., Ferraz, S., Carmo Barreto, M. and Pinheiro de Carvalho, M.A.A. (2018). Nutraceutical potential of Asparagopsis taxiformis (Delile) Trevisan extracts and assessment of a downstream purification strategy. Heliyon. 4, e00957. 
    https://doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018. e00957
  • Valentin Thépot, V., Campbell, A.H., Rimmer, M.A., Jelocnik, M., Johnston, C., Evans, B. and Paul, N.A. (2022). Dietary inclusion of the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis boosts production, stimulates immune response and modulates gut microbiota in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Aquaculture, 546 737286.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j 
  • Bahhel, R.S. (2023). Developments in seaweed biorefinery research: a comprehensive review. Chemical Engineering Journal, 454 (2). 
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cej.2022.140177 

 

Title 

Evaluation of innovative new/novel technologies relevant to onshore and/or in-sea Asparagopsis farming and processing 

Need 

The Asparagopsis industry and indeed the seaweed industry in-general is in its infancy in Australia, but with considerable development potential. The industry participants and R&D providers consulted have identified the opportunity to refine many of the techniques they currently use along the value-chain from farm to market. A few Asparagopsis related examples include: the use of hyperspectral cameras on underwater remote controlled vehicles for underwater mapping the occurrence and biomass in the wild; optimisation of the design of the containers for CO2 delivery and circulation during indoor culture, use of selective spectral solar skylights and LED lights to optimise illumination of indoor cultures; a fast, simple method to analyse bromoform concentration in Asparagopsis in the field, and further optimisation of the processing of Asparagopsis product for use as a livestock feed ingredient, such as drying and/or inclusion in oil, to maximise bromoform retention and consistency during storage and delivery. There are also likely many innovative new/novel opportunities yet identified by industry that should be considered as suitable for investigation. 

This project should investigate one or two innovative new/novel opportunities that will improve the Australian Asparagopsis seaweed industry and ideally the broader Australian seaweed industry.

Deliverables

Deliverables will include: 

  1. A discussion of innovative new/novel opportunities with the Australian Asparagopsis industry and a review of the existing literature, to determine those items of most interest and justify the one or more selected for investigation. 
  2. An experimental evaluation of the one or two innovative new/novel opportunities selected for investigation, as well as an analysis of its/their benefits-costs and ‘green credentials’. 
  3. Documentation and dissemination of the work undertaken and results obtained. 

Timing 

Start: April 2024 

Completion:1 February 2025 

End user 

Initially to the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance (ASSA) and then more broadly to the Australian seaweed industry. 

Jurisdictions 

Relevant to all state jurisdictions, but with emphasis on those state with the most interest in seaweed aquaculture (e.g. NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WA). 

FRDC Outcome(s) 

Aligns with FRDC: 

  • Strategy V: Provide foundational information and support services 
  • Outcome 1: Growth for enduring prosperity 
  • Outcome 2: Best practices and production systems 

Other 

Approx funding level: $100K 

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