A seaweed farm installation in Klahoose First Nations Territory by Cortes Island. (Cascadia Seaweed photo)

A seaweed farm installation in Klahoose First Nations Territory by Cortes Island. (Cascadia Seaweed photo)

Seaweed farming opens world of opportunity for coastal B.C.

“It’s projects like this that can show what true reconciliation is about.”

“Seaweed farming can generate 3,000 coastal jobs and $1 billion to the GDP of coastal B.C.,” says chairman and founding partner of Cascadia Seaweed Bill Collins.

During a Jan. 26 regular council meeting, Collins impressed Ucluelet’s mayor and council with a powerful presentation about how the unique leg of aquaculture can positively impact the coast.

“The workforce and the infrastructure already exists on our coastline and it’s just a question of exploiting it,” said Collins.

Cascadia Seaweed currently has two farms in the water in Barkley Sound and two more in the application process.

“Right now, our agreements are with the Uchucklesaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations. We work with other Nations renting equipment and vessels etc. Last year, the Barkley farm sites were used for kelp growing trials. This year, we are producing kelp at those sites for consumer packaged goods,” said Cascadia Seaweed’s manager of regional business development Mairi Edgar.

“We have flexible agreements with our partners meaning the agreements are built on a case by case basis. For example, a Nation may only wish to rent their tenure and Cascadia plants, grows and harvests the product. Or, the Nation may want to grow and harvest the kelp etc.,” said Edgar.

In 2019, Cascadia Seaweed and Nuu-chah-nulth Seafoods became partners in seaweed aquaculture. The B.C. seaweed venture has also partnered with North Island College to research shelf-friendly food products.

READ: Sugar kelp partnership sweetens food hub proposal on Vancouver Island

READ: Port Alberni Food Hub opens to seafood processors

President of Nuu-chah-nulth Seafoods Larry Johnson said they partnered with Cascadia Seaweed because it made good business sense and their values were very similar.

“I think the work that we are going to do together is going to benefit our shareholder Nations. I really hope that all the governments – First Nations, regional districts, provincial, and federal governments – can come together in collaboration and work to create this opportunity that can help First Nations become part of the economic fabric of this country called Canada. That would be a good accomplishment,” said Johnson.

“It’s projects like this that can show what true reconciliation is about. By working and getting to know and building that relationship, that’s reconciliation. By co-developing and co-managing, that’s reconciliation. Getting to know who your partners are. That’s what’s it’s all about.”

Johnson went on to say the seaweed farms are an add-on to current shellfish tenures and that fish farms could potentially do the same.

“Any aquaculture you could have what they call multi-trophic, which is multiple species creating an environment in the ocean that all work very well together,” said Johnson.

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns sees endless potential in seaweed farming.

“From Bamfield to Hesquiaht, people are very excited about it. I think it’s a fabulous alternative to (open-net salmon farming). I think it’s a significant opportunity for a number of reasons. To see Cascadia setting up shop in our region and partnering with First Nations is fabulous,” said MP Johns.

He called on the federal government to get onboard and amplify the seaweed sector.

“There is an opportunity right now for the federal government to really support this sector and help support the advancement of it. It’s going to enhance the environment instead of potentially harming it. They need to make it a priority and invest in a manner that can help move the regulation process along faster and ensure all stakeholders, especially Indigenous knowledge holders, are at the forefront of that process,” said Johns.

Cascadia Seaweed has lofty growth plans: by 2025 they hope to have 500 hectares (about the size of 1000 American football fields) under cultivation, with agreements on at least 500 more.

“As we go forward north and south on the Island and coastal B.C., we can’t do it all from a central hub. We want to utilize existing coast storage facilities that have been available to the wild caught fishery and salmon farming industry for many years. We want to utilize as much infrastructure and capacity and also spread the wealth so that everybody can have a piece of the value as we get our product to market,” said Collins.

Cascadia Seaweed is presenting an international seaweed festival May 17-23, 2021. Anyone interested in supporting the event or participating is encouraged to email erin@cascadiaseaweed.com.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: North Island College researching seaweed processing possibilities

READ: You want me to eat what? From giant sea cucumbers to sea urchin

READ: Seaweed as cow food?

FarmingFoodIndigenous reconcilliation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

19-year-old man in police custody after incident where woman was putting things in her car

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read