Biosecurity for the Australian Seaweed Industry

The University of Adelaide

  • Project code: PRO-017299

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Friday, August 11, 2023

  • Project completion date: Saturday, August 31, 2024

  • National Priority: NEI - New and Emerging Industries - E2


The Australian seaweed industry is growing, with particular interest in farming Asparagopsis for ruminant methane reduction, and kelps (Ecklonia, Macrocystis, Undaria), sea lettuce (Ulva) and other species for food, bioproducts and other uses. The seaweed knowledge base and tools available for managers are limited, particularly for biosecurity. FRDC 2021-112 aims to inform decisions about translocation of Asparagopsis and Ecklonia and will provide a seaweed disease review, but additional information and tools are required to manage seaweed biosecurity. This proposal is for a project to build on information obtained by the FRDC project and use industry stakeholder perspectives obtained in a workshop to develop an adaptive biosecurity management framework and guidelines for industry and managers. The biosecurity framework will utilise knowledge from AQUAPLAN and AQUAVETPLAN Manuals and approaches to biosecurity used in other aquatic sectors in Australia. The biosecurity guidelines will be adaptable and complementary to the DAFF generic and sector-specific biosecurity plan templates, guidance documents and modules for policy implementation developed for aquaculture industries. Approaches to biosecurity management will be sufficiently flexible that farms can adopt solutions tailored to their biosecurity needs, suitable for the biology and ecology of farmed macroalgal species, and consistent with the Progressive Management Pathway for improving seaweed biosecurity. Guidance will be provided on approaches to diagnostic sampling during seaweed disease events, and disease management strategies for operators. Contact lists of pathologists and other relevant staff will be developed, informed by industry, plant and aquatic health professionals with experience in seaweed diseases. Project communication will be provided with industry and through peak bodies. 


New and Emerging Industries

Research Organisation

The University of Adelaide

Objective Summary

This project will produce a biosecurity plan and guidance documents for all relevant seaweed industry activities.  The biosecurity plan will include:

  • an approach to identify hazards and pathways and a risk matrix for entry, establishment and spread of pathogens and pests (including invasive seaweeds) consistent with national and international methods
  • a  flexible framework that farms can use to tailor biosecurity controls for managing identified risks in their own operations
  • a checklist so that biosecurity plans can be assessed by developers and other parties to ensure that that individual establishment biosecurity plans meet an agreed standard and have risk-equivalent consistency

Guidelines will be developed that will include:

  • informed sampling approaches for seaweeds
  • a checklist of information for growers to assemble about mortality events that can be used by health professionals to investigate the causes of disease
  • contact details for health experts who can assist in investigating disease in seaweeds in Australian States and Territories
  • policy implementation guidance that will provide basic approaches for governments to consider when implementing the biosecurity framework
  • requirements for notification for mortality and disease events now and as the industry develops.

The seaweed biosecurity plan will provide best practice procedures to manage threats and provide a basis for avoiding biosecurity-related disruptions to industry growth.