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New Zealand's Seaweed Industry Faces Regulatory Roadblocks, Hindering Multi-Million Dollar Export Potential

New Zealand's potential to become a leader in the expanding global seaweed industry, currently valued at nearly $12.0 billion by 2030, is being thwarted by outdated regulations, according to industry insiders.

Over 1,000 species of seaweed flourish in the country's coastal waters, but the industry claims the existing framework, which treats seaweed management similarly to fisheries, is stifling its growth.

Underwater coastal seaweed image

Source: Pacific Harvest

Hayley Fraser-Mackenzie, Managing Director of Auckland-based Pacific Harvest and a member of the New Zealand Seaweed Association board, says the status quo for more than a decade is putting the country behind. "The current approach to seaweed management is "blunt" and this is inhibiting what could be a highly lucrative sector for New Zealand", says Hayley Fraser-Mackenzie.

Pacific Harvest, is a true global pioneer in the edible seaweed market, operating now for more than two decades. It's at the forefront of advocating for a future where seaweed is a daily staple, recognised for its environmental and nutritional benefits.

Seaweed is responsible for producing 70% of the planet's oxygen and offers an abundance of micro-nutrients and trace minerals such as iodine and selenium, a known anti-carcinogenic. Despite its recognised value, New Zealand's regulations, which incidentally labels the Wakame variety as a 'marine pest,' prevents companies like Pacific Harvest from fulfilling valuable export orders. This regulatory bottleneck is described by Hayley Fraser-MacKenzie as "frustrating," especially given seaweed's significant potential for human health and environmental sustainability.

Pacific Harvest's recent achievement of BCorp certification underscores its commitment to global sustainability standards, positioning it as one of only two seaweed businesses worldwide to earn this recognition. However, the enforced importation of edible Nori (Pyropia yezoensis) seaweed for its rich protein and nutrient content highlights the paradox within New Zealand's own regulatory framework, which has yet to capitalise on the local abundance of similar seaweed species unable to be wild harvested or grown under careful management.

Source: Dreamstime & Pacific Harvest - Various species in slide format

The industry's plea for a "controlled and respectful" method of seaweed harvest and processing, echoes the growing global recognition of seaweed's multifaceted value. A report by the World Bank has identified the vast commercial opportunities seaweed farming presents, from carbon sequestration to sustaining marine biodiversity and supporting coastal communities.

The report stresses the importance of overcoming key challenges, including the need for greater seaweed availability and the resolution of pricing and regulatory barriers, to unlock the full potential of new global seaweed markets. With the world facing unprecedented resource constraints, seaweed is a renewable solution offering vast benefits to the planet and her inhabitants.

As New Zealand grapples with these regulatory hurdles, the call for modernising seaweed management grows louder. Industry leaders like Hayley Fraser-MacKenzie advocate for change, hoping to unlock the vast economic and ecological potential seaweed farming holds for not only New Zealand but also the world.

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25 de mar.
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Great article, thanks! Small serves of seaweed everyday can have a big impact! It's a fantastic product to be working with on so many levels!



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