First algae aquaculture lease granted off Yorke Peninsula

19 Mar 2021

A commercial seaweed farm off Yorke Peninsula is a step closer with the Marshall Liberal Government granting project approval.

Commercial seaweed could be a game-changing new industry which processes seaweed into a livestock feed supplement which has been found to cut methane production in ruminants (cattle and sheep) which allows energy to be utilised for other activities such as growth or milk production. 

Early estimates by CH4 Global indicate seaweed production could be worth $140 million a year in South Australia with the potential to create 1,200 jobs. 

It is anticipated seaweed-based stock feed supplements will be in strong demand for improved growing rates and in jurisdictions like California where limits have been imposed on livestock emissions. 

The Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC) has been granted two production leases and licences for 10 hectares within the eastern Point Pearce intertidal aquaculture zone, and 30 hectares within the west zone. 

These are the first marine algae aquaculture leases and licences issued for South Australia, which is expected to bring new economic development and employment activity to the Yorke Peninsula region, including local Aboriginal communities. 

NNAC is working in partnership with CH4 Global, a company focused on farming marine seaweeds for commercial purposes to reduce greenhouse emissions in the livestock industry. 

NNAC Chief Executive Officer Klynton Wanganeen welcomed the receipt of the 40 hectares worth of leases for the aquaculture project. 

The algae is native to the Narungga Nation's traditional waters in the Yorke Peninsula, which have the perfect climate to grow both cold and warm water varieties of the seaweed, he said.

"The project, which it is hoped leads to the first commercial scale supply of the seaweed in the world, is still in the testing stage," Mr Wanganeen said. 

"We're in the process of planning and putting in the infrastructure for two one-hectare leases so that we can start growing with a view to working out the optimal depth for the warm water species."

The farm will produce two species of red algae: the warm water species Asparagopsis taxiformis and a cool water species Asparagopsis armata. This will ensure high growth rates throughout the year. 

Research shows that small amounts of the algae added to cattle feed reduced the methane in cow burps close to 100 per cent.