• Completed project

Building a seaweed sector

Developing a seaweed sector framework for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Serean Adams (Cawthron) November 2020 – September 2022 $560,000


This project is complete and the Seaweed Sector Framework is now available. Other tools and resources are available at the bottom of this page.

Seaweed has huge potential to contribute to Aotearoa New Zealand’s blue economy.

In 2018, the global seaweed sector was valued at more than $13 billion USD, and grew 8% from 2016 to 2018 (fao.org). Global seaweed production has more than doubled in the last 20 years, exceeding natural supply - now more than 30% of global aquaculture production volume is seaweed.

Successful seaweed sectors overseas have hatcheries, large- and small-scale farming operations, processing capability and established seaweed-based products that supply markets. These are assisted by on-going research and development, and workforce support. 

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have a fledgling but highly dynamic seaweed sector operating at small scales, but many gaps and barriers exist, limiting the potential growth.  

With the right framework grounded in ecosystem-based management (EBM) principles, a thriving seaweed sector could be possible in Aotearoa New Zealand.  

We are working with the iwi, stakeholders, industry, researchers, and government agencies that currently or plan to operate in the sector - either as farmers or as users of seaweed products - and consider the wider community, to co-develop a Seaweed Sector Framework grounded in blue economy and EBM principles. 

  • Have reviewed the current state of the seaweed sector, and published this Seaweed Sector Review in 3 parts:
    • Part 1 focuses on markets and regulation, including future market opportunities and priorities. It also includes information drawn from industry interviews conducted by Transitioning to a blue economy project.
    • Part 2 explores which species have characteristics of commercial interest, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi considerations
    • Part 3 explores the environmental effects of regenerative seaweed aquaculture (both positive and negative, ecosystem services and bioremediation)
  • Are co-developing a seaweed sector framework for Aotearoa New Zealand, incorporating EBM principles. 
  • Are testing the framework using seaweed case studies to understand how it can effectively operate across different scales (eg local, regional, national and small to large businesses). 

The Sustainable Seas Challenge defines a ‘blue economy as:  

Marine activities that generate economic value and contribute positively to ecological, cultural and social well-being. 

Research Team

Serean Adams (Cawthron)
Nigel Bradly (EnviroStrat)
Rob Major (Cawthron)
Marie Magnusson (UoW)
Victoria Jollands (EnviroStrat)
Sandra Cortez (EnviroStrat)
Leo Zamora (Cawthron)
Tom Wheeler (Cawthron)
Emma Newcombe (Cawthron)
Shaun Ogilvie (Cawthron)
Te Rerekohu Tuterangiwhiu (Cawthron)
Dana Clark (Cawthron)
Paul South (Cawthron)
Cam Inskeep (EnviroStrat)
Donato Romanazzi (Cawthron)
Rebecca Lawton (UoW)
Chris Glasson (UoW)
Deanna Clement (Cawthron)
Cam Ingram (Cawthron)
Andy Elliot (Auora, Wakatū)

Related News

Related Events


This is a national project.


  • June 2021
    Mid-way review
  • August 2021
    Seaweed Sector Review (part 1): Market & regulation
  • November 2021
    Seaweed Sector Review (part 2): Species characteristics and Te Tiriti o Waitangi considerations
    Seaweed Sector Review (part 3): Environmental effects of seaweed wild-harvest and aquaculture
  • November 2021
    Focus groups help to provide input into development of draft framework
  • June 2022
    Presentation of draft framework for feedback
  • August 2022
    Summary of key findings from seaweed case studies
  • October 2022
    Publish final Seaweed Sector Framework