Harvesting of Ecklonia species
South Africa, Australia & New Zealand
Ecklonia radiata is the dominant kelp species in southern
Australian and in New Zealand coastal waters and Ecklonia maxima is the dominant
kelp species in South African waters. Neither species is harvested in any great quantity
at present but both species have very long stipes and are sources of good quality
In Australia Kennelly (1987a,b) has shown how the recovery of a kelp
forest after the removal of mature plants was dependent on the season at which the mature
plants were removed. If plants were removed in the winter months, normal settlement and
recruitment of juvenile plants occurred and a new canopy cover was established rapidly. If
plants were removed in the spring, summer and autumn, however, the cleared area was
initially settled by a dense turf of red algae which inhibited the settlement of
gametophytes or the development of young sporophytes in the winter months.
In South Africa a great deal of research has been undertaken into the
energetics and population dynamics of the species which forms part of the food web for the
commercially important rock lobster fishery. As a result of this 20-year-long, ongoing,
work, it is unlikely that Ecklonia harvesting will be allowed due to the key role
the kelp has been shown to play in the primary productivity of the coastal ecosystem (R.
Anderson, pers. comm.). The stipes of drift-line Ecklonia are still collected from
the beaches, air-dried, baled and sold on the world market for alginate production (H.T.
Powell, pers. comm.).