Bull Kelp

Bull Kelp

xxxxxx (Bull Kelp)
In palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines, with thanks to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

Durvillaea potatorum & Durvillaea amatheiae (Bull Kelp)

Durvillaea potatorum (Bull Kelp). Photo credit: Joanna Smart

2011 Bull Kelp Status

Status Sustainable
Summary The King Island Bull Kelp Fishery is the main fishery for Bull Kelp in Tasmania. This fishery was deemed sustainable in a 2011 assessment by the Australian Government. Restrictions informing this assessment include harvesting only 50% of beach-cast kelp at each site, harvesting only from specific areas, and a prohibition on sandy beach harvesting during vulnerable hooded plover nesting months. Fishery practices have apparently remained largely unchanged since this assessment. The Bull Kelp Fishery operating on the west coast of mainland Tasmania (Granville Harbour and the Marrawah region) has not been assessed.
Stock Tasmanian Bull Kelp
Indicator(s) Harvest weight (dry tonnage); ecological impacts; TEPS interactions.

Bull Kelp is the common name for cold water macroalgae species of the genus Durvillaea. In Tasmania, two species (Durvillaea potatorum and Durvillaea amatheiae) co-occur except around King Island, where only D. potatorum is found (Weber et al. 2017). All Durvillaea species require rocky substrate for attachment and wave-exposed environments, generally inhabiting shallow subtidal and intertidal zones (Velásquez et al. 2020).

Beach-cast Bull Kelp is harvested by the Tasmanian Marine Plant Fishery, mostly from the west coast – from Granville Harbour, the Northwest area, and King Island (Wild Fisheries Management Branch 2024). Harvesting is conducted by hand collection, sometimes with winch assistance or with a mechanical harvester and mechanical grab (Velásquez et al. 2020). Thalli are initially air-dried then further dried to enable milling into granular form (Velásquez et al. 2020; Kelp Industries). The majority of Tasmanian Bull Kelp is exported for production of alignate products, which are used in myriad applications from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to food and clothing (Kelp Industries).

A pdf of the complete 2011 Assessment of the King Island Bull Kelp Fishery by the Australian Government’s Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities is available here:

Learn more about what each stock status classification means on our Stock Status Classifications Information Page:

Stock Status Classifications

Learn more about fisheries terms and concepts on our Science Information page:

Science Terms and Concepts

Fishery Overview


Social and Economic Indicators