South Coast Seaweed has won the 2022 Indigenous Business Month regional business award.
The award celebrates Indigenous regional businesses' vision, business savvy and local contributions based on relationships and testimonials from the local community.
Batemans Bay couple James and Sarah Thomas started the business in 2020 to revitalise traditional knowledge to make modern products from seaweed.
Mr Thomas said he was surprised and excited to win the award.
"It shows that we are doing the right thing, heading in the right direction and showing young Indigenous businesses how to do it and come up through the ranks," he said.
The couple care deeply about sustainability and educating people about First Nations aquaculture practices and living by the sea.
Mr Thomas has been surprised at the range of people drawn to the cultural eco tours they run.
"A lot of people are interested in getting into foraging native plants and foods."
Another key customer segment is companies from Sydney that are trying to incorporate Indigenous culture into their business.
"They do it by sending people on the tour, interacting with us and going back to spread the word."
On occasions they have offered free tours which were well attended by families with young children.
"The kids were talking about it for weeks afterwards so we hope to run a few more free ones to get them more interested in what we are trying to do," Mr Thomas said.
The couple are involved in a long-term research project with Macquarie University to document First Nations use of seaweed.
Because the university works closely with schools, the couple travel considerably to help run the school programs and teach.
The other side of their business is harvesting, drying, processing and packaging seaweed products which they predominantly sell online, at local markets and to restaurants and fish and chip shops.
"We are trying to promote seaweed as a side dish and serving seaweed sauces with fish and chips," Mr Thomas said.
Being so passionate about sustainability and taking care of sea country he has noticed subtle changes which he has discussed with his mentors.
"Seaweed that used to be there won't come back so there are certain little things that show it isn't looking too good."
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