Auckland Council has earmarked $1.2 million to support a Hauraki Gulf seaweed pilot farm project, which if successful, would scale up regenerative ocean farming and create numerous environmentally sustainable jobs in the region.
The Government is also contributing to the three-year pilot, funding nearly $2 million through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund. The project is being led by local business EnviroStrat and its team of experts in the coastal, marine, and blue economy sectors.
The University of Waikato researchers, Dr Marie Magnusson and Dr Rebecca Lawton will oversee the research and trial designs, with input from the University of Auckland’s marine science faculty. Premium Seas Ltd and AgriSea Ltd will contribute their production, market, and processing expertise and local aquaculture farmers will provide onsite operations.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, says the pilot aligns with the council’s climate action and environmental goals, while creating local job opportunities.
“Experience overseas indicates that seaweed farming has a number of environmental benefits including removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere and helping to improve water quality by absorbing contaminants,” he said.
“As well as protecting the health of our marine ecosystems and helping us achieve our climate change goals, partnering with the Crown, iwi, and businesses with specialist knowledge in the seaweed aquaculture industry provides an opportunity to create environmentally friendly, local job opportunities for Aucklanders.”
Auckland Council’s General Manager Healthy Waters, Craig Mcilroy said he was excited about the social, cultural, and environmental opportunities the project presents for Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland.
“Seaweed may also be used as an alternative to common commercial biostimulants, and we can test their effectiveness on council farms. There are also the blue carbon sequestration benefits to be realised.”
“The regenerative seaweed farming model, developed by GreenWave US, has proven successful, and could provide solutions to some of the challenges we face, including demands on our natural marine resources and rising pollution levels, compromising the health of our marine environment,” Mr Mcilroy said.