Diversification of seaweed industries in Pacific island countries - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Diversification of seaweed industries in Pacific island countries

This project aims to provide the technological basis for diversification and revitalisation of seaweed industries in Pacific island countries. The partner countries involved in this research include Fiji, Kiribati, and Samoa.

  • improve production levels and post-harvest quality of Kappaphycus (red seaweed) in Fiji and Kiribati
  • consolidate production and post-harvest strategies for sea grapes in Samoa and Fiji
  • assess opportunities for new seaweed bioproducts in Pacific island countries
Tapping into the real potential of Pacific seaweed

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)* ranks seaweed as one of the highest-priority commodities for aquaculture. In fact, seaweed farming is one of the few industries in Pacific island countries that is potentially export-oriented, culturally and technologically appropriate, and able to provide substantial livelihood benefits to men and women in remote communities.

There is renewed commercial interest in seaweed around the world, with an identified need for diverse products in addition to the commonly-produced carrageenan (used as a food thickener and stabiliser). To maximise the real potential of Pacific seaweed industries and invigorate production, diversification is essential.

It is also feasible given that seaweeds are a multi-species resource with a broad range of commercial applications, from food products to gelling agents, as fertilisers and in feeds, as bioenergy, and for functional ingredients such as nutraceuticals.

As a result of this project, partner countries are actively engaged in grass-roots seaweed research designed to address their individual country needs.

Together with researchers and representatives from partner organisations, village communities are investigating methods to improve production of carrageenan-producing seaweeds and edible seaweeds.

Village-based edible sea grapes production is now underway at numerous locations in Samoa. Production trials are monitoring best-practice techniques for a range of locations.

In Kiribati, new temperature-tolerant strains of red seaweed are being trialled, and the use of alternative seaweeds is being evaluated for applications as soil conditioners to boost the capacity of their atoll soils.

In Fiji, partnerships with businesses and market research are underway to help map out future industry plans.

Alongside the village-based work across the partner countries, project scientists are assessing opportunities for new seaweed products, such as fertilisers, stock feeds and biologically-active chemicals.

* SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947.