Seaweed FisheryThe main components of this fishery are the collection of cast bull kelp and harvesting of the introduced seaweed, Undaria. In addition, there are several minor components, including a single operation harvesting red and brown seaweeds and several small operations collecting cast seaweed from specific beaches around the State.
About 80 to 100 individuals on King Island collect the cast bull kelp and transport it to the Kelp Industries plant in Currie. Kelp harvesting generates about $2 million worth of income for King Island.
The end product of dried bull kelp is the extraction of alginates, which are used in thickening solutions in a wide variety of products, including sauces, syrups, creams, lotions and ice cream. The cast bull kelp industry on King Island supplies about 5% of the world production of alginates.
Kelp harvesting also occurs on the West Coast of Tasmania where there are two centres of operation: around Bluff Hill Point and at Granville Harbour. The cast bull kelp is used in commercial gardens and pastures and on private gardens.
The harvest operations currently occur on the East Coast of Tasmania, as that is where significant concentration of Undaria occurs. It is currently found from the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to north of St Helens.
Since Undaria is an introduced marine pest, the harvesting of this species does not need to be constrained by concerns over resource sustainability. It was initially hoped that the harvest would help slow the spread of the pest, although levels of harvesting have not been sufficient to achieve this.
Finally, there is currently no direct harvesting of native seaweeds. The Department does not encourage such harvesting due to the importance of seaweeds to Tasmania’s marine ecosystems upon which Tasmania’s marine fisheries are based.
There is currently a formal management plan being developed for marine plants that will greatly enhance the data available on the fishery. It is anticipated that the new management arrangements will be introduced in the 2014/2015 licensing year but licence holders and other major stakeholders will be advised of developments and provided with ample opportunity to comment on draft proposals.
Undaria Action Plan or Kelpwatch.
Recreational Seaweed Collection
Contact: Greg RyanGreg Ryan
Senior Fisheries Management Officer (Dive Fisheries)
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3028
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