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“Giant kelp were the foundation for marine communities along much of Tasmania’s East Coast, creating complex habitats that once supported key species of conservation or commercial value, from weedy sea dragons to rock lobsters and abalone,” Dr Layton said.

“Active restoration of these now degraded and disappearing habitats represents a potential approach for conservation of giant kelp forests while at the same time offering new commercial possibilities.

“The same techniques that underpin restoration may also be able to facilitate the development of giant kelp Marine Permaculture for commercial harvest and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture.

“This study is essentially a pilot project that could lead to a much larger piece of work if we establish that there is the potential for restoring giant kelp,” Dr Layton said.


Eaglehawk Dive Centre tourism operator, Mick Baron, has experienced first-hand the impacts of giant kelp loss to his business over recent decades.

“We had kelp to the north and to the south, so thick you couldn’t drive a boat through it. Within 20 years, it had all disappeared,” he said.


Introducing the Kelp Tracker

OzFish Unlimited and its project partners have made a call-out to Tasmanian Rec Fishers to help track the State’s disappearing giant kelp forests via the free phone app: Kelp Tracker.

Kelp Tracker allows recreational fishers and community members to ‘log’ their sightings of endangered and disappearing giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Sightings are then verified by scientists and over time this data will help to create a map of the remaining giant underwater forests.

This will then allow scientists to locate and study the remnant giant kelp which can identify patches that might harbour warm water-tolerant kelp, and locate areas that might be suitable for habitat restoration.

Using the Kelp Tracker, rec fishers can quickly and easily install the free app and report any giant kelp sightings they see on their travels straight into their phones.