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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Seaweed aquaculture

Asparagopsis is a genus of red macroalgae or seaweed that occurs naturally in Australia. The genus contains two species; Asparagopsis taxiformis, which is found in warmer waters extending north of Perth, and Asparagopsis armata, which is a cooler-climate species and extends from Jurien Bay around the south coast to South Australia. Scientists from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and James Cook University recently discovered that the addition of a small amount Asparagopsis to cattle feed can significantly reduce methane emissions. This feed additive is being developed by FutureFeed as the current IP (Intellectual Property) holder.

The commercial aquaculture of Asparagopsis is still very much in its infancy; little is currently known about its natural distribution, seasonal dynamics and cultivation techniques. Asparagopsis has a highly complex life cycle which involves alternation between three life-history stages; namely, tetrasprophyte, gametophyte and carposporophyte. All of these life history stages need to be investigated and considered for commercial Asparagopsis cultivation.

Currently, Asparagopsis aquaculture is being investigated and developed globally using land-based and marine-based farming techniques. Despite significant global interest of Asparagopsis, farming is novel and there remains a considerable requirement for R&D before commercial cultivation can be reliably achieved. Reliance on wild harvest of Asparagopsis is not sustainable and production growth will depend on aquaculture. Commercial-scale Asparagopsis farming will require the use of hatchery seeding techniques that are yet to be developed. Further, several factors that require consideration include the seasonal nature of the species and the identification and availability of suitable marine farming sites. The most viable techniques for land-based farming are still poorly understood, as are the selection criteria for suitable sites.

As FutureFeed holds the IP, prospective Asparagopsis growers will need to understand the market and the royalties scheme. FutureFeed may also be able to provide advice to prospective growers.

Asparagopsis armata 1.jpgAsparagopsis armata 2.jpg

Figure 1 Asparagopsis armata, temperate species, showing distinctive harpoons


Asparagopsis taxiformis.jpg
Figure 2 Asparagopsis taxiformis, tropical species

Last modified: 1/12/2021 10:58 AM

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