Commercial harvesting of seaweed is to be allowed on many beaches in Taranaki, Wairarapa and Northland.
The seaweed in question is referred to as brown and green beach-cast - basically, seaweed that's washed ashore during a storm.
Beach seaweed is mainly a fertiliser ingredient but is also used in some medicinal, pharmaceutical and food products.
The Christchurch-based company NZ Kelp says New Zealand has five or six very edible, nutritious seaweeds that little is being done with.
Owner Roger Beattie says harvesting seaweed is as sustainable as mowing your lawn.
But the Royal New Zealand Forest & Bird Protection Society is worried that the plan could strip beaches of seaweed unless tight controls are in place.
However, the Ministry of Fisheries says ecologically sensitive areas have been kept closed.