Show #31 – How the humble seaweed might save the world with marine scientist Pia Winberg


Now onto the show…

In this episode Alexx chats to Dr Pia Winberg. Winberg has a PhD in marine ecology from the University of Wollongong. She now heads a company, Venus Shell Systems, which is working to take the science of marine biological systems and apply it commercially by creating a new Australian aquaculture industry: the sustainable growing and farming of seaweed and algae. We talk about the sustainability potential of responsible sea vegetable farming, the nutritional benefits, the fish industry in general, prawn farming and much, much more.

Dr Pia Winberg is the Director and Chief Scientist Venus Shell Systems. The passionate founder of Venus Shell Systems, Pia has been working across both the marine industry and academia for the past 15 years and has a background in marine systems ecology.

Her career has spanned both academic research and industry innovation in the fields of coastal and estuarine ecology, fisheries and sustainable aquaculture systems. Pia’s main research is in marine food production systems that are sustainably integrated with the coastal and marine environment and, as such, her published research efforts span aquaculture and sustainable estuarine systems. Pia is the driving force behind the pioneering development and production of Australia’s unique seaweed biomass and extracts.

Here’s a little snapshot of the goodies in today’s episode…

  • For environmentally sustainable practices – it’s all in the design! 
  • A few tips from Pia on the most sustainable seafood we can buy. Pilchards, Anchovies, Sardines. They are full of Omega 3’s, they’re at the bottom of the food chain, and they are the self maintaining populations. Octopus and calamari foods are also great. Even Salmon is quite a good option for sustainable seafood, as it’s cold blooded and it’s full of Omega 3’s – they’re full of good food conversion efficiency. 
  • Not sure what to ask your fishmonger when buying seafood? See our tips below.
  • For further reading about prawns –
  • For further reading about buying local vs imported seafood, check out David Suzuki’s website.

What to ask my fishmonger? 

  • Where was this imported from (if it says imported)
  • What are the fish fed (if farmed as with salmon / trout. Ask specifically for them to find out about GMO Soy in the pellets)
  • Is this locally caught / wild / line caught (trifecta of perfection)
  • Prawns: Are these from the Asian region? (If yes, as advised, don’t buy. Stick to Aussie / NZ)

Most sustainable options in Australia? Snapper, Flathead, sardines, local mackerel, baby octopus and squid.

The Canadian Way – this is the brand of salmon that Alexx treats herself to every now and then.

THIS WEEK’S LIVE HAPPIER, HEALTHIER CHALLENGE: Ask the questions of your fishmonger! if you aren’t comfortable with the answers you’re given then don’t buy from them, shop elsewhere. Transparency is everything when it comes to effecting change and making retailers think differently about what they stock and why. Influence the sustainable marine food world via your dollar! And try to incorporate a little seaweed into your diet if you can – check out the ‘Phettucine‘ or ‘Sea Spirals’ seaweed pasta on the Phyco Health site – very mild tasting and not mega ‘sea’ flavoured. Or of course, there’s the ‘Phukka‘ – which is Seaweed Dhukka! 

Here are all the important links:


Phyco Health – Pop here to shop for those tasty macadamias! Check out the Coastal Chef Cookbook for inspiration if you fancy trying cooking your own seaweed inspired meals.


Enjoy the show and thanks again for taking the time to rate and review the show – it’s like tipping the bartender and it means the world. (To do this from your phone, you can’t be ‘in the show list’ – go to the podcast search function and type low tox life, and then click on the show and click ‘review’. Annoyingly tricky but hey. I figured I may as well help you out if you’re going to take the time to leave a review!)

Low Tox. Happy us. Happy planet

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