Credit: Jess Snoek

Posted on 01 February 2023

Seaweed holds sway as the number one topic

A glance at the most-viewed tools and resources on the Sustainable Seas Challenge website in 2022 makes it clear that rimurimu (seaweed) takes the crown as the topic of most interest.

Unravelling the seaweed sector

The vision for the domestic seaweed sector is that by 2032 rimurimu/seaweed will contribute significantly to Aotearoa New Zealand’s economy and support thriving ecosystems, communities and culture. Key growth markets include health and beauty, human food, animal supplements, and biostimulants.

In October we released a co-developed roadmap showing how Aotearoa could tap further into the enormous potential of its seaweed sector. What do we already know, and what do we need to find out? A framework has been created to address the gaps in our knowledge.

As part of communicating the mahi underway our seaweed infographics proved popular, particularly the carbon cycle within a seaweed farm and a snapshot of the global seaweed sector that explains which seaweeds make up the bulk of the global supply, what they’re mainly used for, the rate of industry growth, and which countries are importing, farming and wild harvesting.

Development of the country’s seaweed sector will require a shift towards aquaculture to allow an increase in yields without placing pressure on wild seaweed populations. Another popular infographic identified positive ecosystem services and possible negative environmental effects associated with seaweed aquaculture in coastal areas.

Ocean plastic simulator

Aside from rimurimu, another popular tool was the ocean plastic simulator tool, which allows any user to drop virtual plastic into the ocean and track how floating plastic waste moves around Aotearoa's coastline.

The tool has potential for aquaculture, environmental and biosecurity monitoring. The tool can easily be used to show where plastic pollution has come from or to predict the movement of living things. The aquaculture industry could use it to track (or predict) larvae, spat, or lost equipment, while biosecurity staff could track (or predict) the spread of invasive species.

The tool includes a section exploring the importance of the moana for Māori, with stories from iwi.

User guides for EBM tools

Our user guides for helping resource managers and kaitiaki identify appropriate tools for implementing ecosystem-based management (EBM) into their research practices have received a lot of attention.

EBM is a holistic approach to managing human activities that ensures ecosystem health. Informed decision-making using an EBM approach draws on extensive scientific and cultural knowledge from a range of stakeholders and experts.

The 17 tools provided include guidelines, decision frameworks and monitoring tools, as well as more complex numerical models. The user guides can be viewed and downloaded.

Most popular SSC tools and resources of 2022 (listed in topic order):

Aotearoa’s seaweed sector framework

Seaweed sector review part 1: market and regulatory focus

Seaweed sector review part 2: species characteristics and Te Tiriti considerations

Seaweed sector review part 3: environmental effects

The carbon cycle of NZ seaweed farms (infographic)

Possible ecosystem services and environmental effects of seaweed farms (infographic)

Snapshot of the global seaweed sector (infographic)

Ocean plastic simulator

User guide: tools for ecosystem-based management

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