It’s 2030, imagine if…

Moonrise decolonised saltwater agroecology. Initially developed under Kaurna guidance in 2023, Moonrise presented a best practice model for First Nations led seaweed farming. The replication of small-scale farms across the Australian coastline provided food security for First Nations communities and buffered coastlines from extreme weather events. By disrupting large, energy-intensive seaweed enterprises, Moonrise reduced coastal monocultures at the same time as enhancing carbon sequestration potential. The project's establishment of seed bank nurseries in 2028 led to the cultivation of climate-resistant seaweed strains, further contributing to resilient, biodiverse coastal ecosystems. It is estimated that First Nations-led aquacultural ventures account for 25% of the $200 million Australian seaweed industry.

Summary of solution

Seaweed aquaculture is an emerging industry in Australia, and is being touted as a silver bullet for climate change and other environmental issues. Whilst promising, there is the risk that corporate monocultures will monopolise the resources and investment capital available, meaning seaweed farming may fail to live up to its regenerative potential.Moonrise Seaweed Co. is innovating a new model of seaweed farming - “saltwater agroecology” - specific to local regenerative practices and centred on First Nation knowledge systems.

The act of 'Caring for Country' is both an obligation and a process of healing for First Nations people, and provides an opportunity to work on restoring ecosystems while developing forward-looking food systems. Tangible outcomes for First Nations people from 'Caring for Country' include a sense of belonging to place and land custodianship, and outcomes for local communities include food sovereignty, healthy Country and self determination. Moonrise will work with the community, research partners, and government to develop and demonstrate a model by which small operators can farm regeneratively, and profitably, in line with First Nations custodianship – and to share the knowledge uncovered open-source.

Why is this solution innovative

This project is a 50% First Nations owned and led initiative, and will consult and partner with traditional owners to facilitate Caring for Sea Country and continuation, revival and innovation of cultural practices in relation to seaweed and potentially associated species. Their partnership with Kaurna First Nations is the cornerstone of their social impact business model. To engage in a meaningful level of consultation, figure out culturally appropriate practices and co-develop the project to maximise benefits to Community (in terms of Caring for Sea Country, two-way knowledge sharing and just use of profits) takes an extended period of getting to know one another, deep listening, and openness to change. In the regular economy, there is simply not the time or financial imperative to engage with this process. Their outcome is genuine First Nations participation with this new industry rather than more "jobs and training" in exchange for access to resources.

The very unique advantage is the focus on studying which specs of seaweed will be well adapted for particular waters and locations of South Australia. This is extremely important because the seaweed industry is blocked at the moment in Australia by the lack of knowledge.