• Summary

Building a seaweed sector

The Sustainable Seas Building a seaweed sector project has co-developed a framework outlining a vision of what the future seaweed industry could look like and sets out a clear pathway for getting there. The framework was developed in partnership with iwi, stakeholders, industry, researchers, and government agencies.

The framework, which was released in October 2022, sets out key priorities in leadership, research, and regulation for the seaweed sector to support a blue economy in Aotearoa New Zealand.


The Challenge supported the co-development of the Seaweed Sector Framework, which catalysed the formation of the Aotearoa New Zealand Seaweed Association (ANZSA). The Seaweed Sector Framework was shared at the inaugural Seaweed Summit, which the Challenge supported, in partnership with ANZSA, Aquaculture NZ, and the Cawthron Institute.

“To ensure we grow a sector with enduring benefits for Aotearoa New Zealand, we need investment in quality research and value chains that deliver healthy ecosystems and high value products, and to acknowledge a Te Ao Māori perspective. As ANZSA we look to take this Framework out into the seaweed sector and the communities that this kaupapa serves.” Clare Bradley, ANZSA

The development of a sector-wide seaweed strategy is currently being undertaken by ANZSA following the launch of the framework. The second Seaweed Summit will be held in October 2023, and is being run independently by ANZSA, which is a significant step in the leadership of the industry.


The framework provides a comprehensive guide for how the seaweed industry could look going forward and key knowledge priorities that need to be addressed to support a thriving sector. The Seaweed Sector Framework has been taken up by organisations as a foundational document for informing priorities in research, engagement, and strategy.

“I think, by having the framework, it gives us a pathway to align our seaweed strategy and move forward. It has helped to give direction and shape to the work that people are doing across the seaweed sector.” Rob Major, Cawthron Institute

“The framework has helped our engagement with central and local government.  GreenwaveNZ has used the framework to inform species selection and frame a higher-value strategy and product pathways piece of work we are currently undertaking. We have also received enquiries from other sectors (eg fisheries) domestically and internationally regarding the value of such frameworks to catalyse the sector/subsectors.” Rebecca Barclay, Senior Project Manager, Envirostrat

Since the launch of the framework, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Envirostrat have applied for and received Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures funding to support their seaweed sector research and development.

The launch of the Seaweed Sector Framework at the Seaweed Summit drew significant national media attention, including 12 articles and two radio stories. The Seaweed Sector Review and Framework were the most popular Sustainable Seas website downloads, with 606 downloads for the year.


The regulatory environment for commercially farmed seaweed can be particularly challenging. The Seaweed Sector Framework highlighted regulatory restrictions to the development of a seaweed sector. For example, Lucas Evans from Premium Seas, and a local partner, founded Wakame Fresh in Aotearoa to export seaweed to Australia and Japan. Almost immediately they faced regulatory challenges.

“I’ve been through the trenches of applying for all those certifications that are required.” Lucas Evans, Founder, Premium Seas

The Ministry for Primary Industries met to review the regulations around commercially farmed seaweed following the 2022 launch of the Seaweed Sector Framework and have now taken into consideration the access challenges experienced by applicants. They are now actively exploring options to improve seaweed access for aquaculture purposes, including interim and longer-term options, and expect to provide further updates later in 2023.

International interest in the research

The Building a seaweed sector research has been picked up internationally. The UN Environment Programme has requested permission to include the Sustainable Seas seaweed sector infographics developed within the project in their report on Seaweed Farming as a Nature-Based Climate Change Solution, which collates and scrutinises existing research on the quantifiable climate benefits and associated environmental and social risks of global seaweed farming.