As Waikato Regional Council representative on the Hauraki Gulf Forum, I had the privilege of being briefed on the exciting new opportunities for seaweed aquaculture on the Coromandel Peninsula. This “blue economy” has the potential to improve water quality, revitalise our waterways, improve our on-land farming systems. and create hundreds of local jobs.
Waikato Regional Council supports innovation like this through the $750,000 funding it has provided to the Waikato region’s regional development agency Te Waka
Seaweed is being used for fertiliser, to extract nitrogen and other contaminants from our waterways, in cosmetics, wound care and even to create plastics. And it is a source of protein and can store lots of carbon to combat climate change.
The ‘blue economy’ is not just about money. It refers to activities that are both based in, and which are actively good for the ocean. It includes non-market benefits: carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity.
New Zealand is perfectly positioned to pioneer this wave. The nation is blessed with a vast ocean estate (at over 4,083,000 square kilometres it’s the world’s seventh-largest maritime area)
At the moment, the seaweed is hand collected after wash-ups across the country – with 30% left behind for native species – but Government funding will allow local award-winning company Agrisea to expand its production by growing on land and in the sea,
Creating the world’s first commercial seaweed-based nanocellulose manufacturing plant is a $1.5m project, and the Government is loaning $750,000 towards it – with potential for further investments.
Learn more about the New Zealand seaweed industry