DIVING RIGHT IN
Marrawah farmer and bull kelp harvester Stafford Heres likes storms – particularly when they deliver bull kelp to the shores between Bluff Hill Point and Temma where he’s licensed to collect it.
“We get excited when we hear a storm is coming,” Heres says. “When the kelp is washed ashore we can get two to three tonnes in a day. We only collect it fresh and it smells beautiful.
“They say it’s a vegetable of the sea and I guess that’s true. I chew on it raw while I’m out collecting. It tastes pretty nice, like Samboy chips.”
Heres, pictured “on a cold, wintry day” last year at a former kelp collection point at West Point, owns Marrawah Gold, which exports bull kelp emulsion for use in fertilisers for viticulture and horticulture around the world.
Though he loves the product and finds it easy to handle – “fresh kelp isn’t slippery” – he prefers to collect it in warmer weather.
“We collect over the winter, but it’s easier to collect it in autumn and spring when the weather’s nice and we don’t have to wear coats and waterproof gear,” Heres says.
“So far this year, we’ve collected about 180-190 tonnes (of an average 300 tonnes a year).
“We’ve had a fantastic autumn and winter, and we’re just starting to come into the really good-quality kelp now.”