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.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



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

Just Posted

Emissions from the City of Abbotsford's vehicles make up the largest share of the municipality's emissions.
File photo
Vancouver Island councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay’s Will Cole-Hamilton pushing for building emission legislation

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Thousands protested in Victoria following the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. not exempt: New report documents 150 years of racism and the fight against it

Booklet marks province’s 150th anniversary with call for transparency, change

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Gregory Ould, co-founder and executive director of Blanket BC, drops off warming blankets to Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni during a tour of Vancouver Island on Feb. 19, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Duncan Christian’s Grace George lines up a shot during the three-point portion of the BC School Sports Pandemic Basketball Challenge after taking a pass from Cam Stevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian leads the way in pandemic basketball challenge

School tops participation numbers for second time this year

The shadow cast of the Satyr Players production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’: Linda Dohmeier as Dr. Scott, Olivia Erickson as Columbia, Brandon Caul as Rocky, Christopher Carter as Brad, Charlie Prince as Eddie, Branden Martell as Riff Raff, Jenna Morgan as Magenta, Megan Rhode as Janet and Adrien Kennedy as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (clockwise from left). (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
VIU student actors go online for 25th-annual ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Satyr Players theatre company to broadcast pre-recorded shadow production

Most Read