Cascadia Seaweed Receives Funding to Isolate Seaweed Compounds

 Seagriculture EU 2024
Cascadia Seaweed Spencer Serin

Dr. Spencer Serin, Principal Investigator of the Agriscience project at Cascadia Seaweed, pictured here at Hub City Fisheries in Nanaimo with seaweed being processed in the background. Photo: Andrew Candell

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has established an agreement with Cascadia Seaweed to systematically identify valuable compounds found in British Columbia seaweeds, primarily to support the agricultural sector.

AAFC is investing up to $533,475 under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Program, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative, to develop Canada’s capacity to study seaweed as a value-added cattle feed. The outcomes of this investment are expected to identify a systematic assessment of compounds within specific seaweeds to improve animal health, increase feed conversion, and reduce enteric methane emissions produced by ruminants (cows, sheep, and goats).

Cascadia Seaweed seaweeds

Cascadia Seaweed will identify valuable compounds found in B.C. seaweeds.

“The fight against climate change is not only about reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, but also helping farmers to innovate and adopt more sustainable farming practices. By investing in alternative farming methods such as the initiative by Cascadia Seaweed to explore seaweed as an alternative feedstock for cattle, we are supporting the development of sustainable feed that reduces methane emissions and moves the sector further into the clean economy for future generations,” said the Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.   

While seaweed grows in the ocean, it captures carbon and nitrogen, provides habitat, helps mitigate acidification, and produces oxygen. Farming seaweed can even help reestablish natural kelp forests. There are over 600 species of seaweed in British Columbia, with uses from food to feed, to industrial ingredients, and medical and cosmetic applications. 

This new research program presents an alternative for animal producers to boost productivity and reduce emissions, as there is a global need to diversify feedstock production with climate-resilient crops. The agriculture industry is responsible for 24% of Canada’s total methane emissions, therefore this research could enable policy measures which support the government’s pledge, made late last year, to slash methane emissions to 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.

Cascadia Seaweed has demonstrated seaweed cultivation at scale, which will be needed to diversify feed supply for the over 4 million beef cattle in Canada. Establishing a scientific process to identify the compounds in seaweeds for cattle feed may uncover valuable constituents for other purposes. Investigating the range of uses of a regenerative, ocean-cultivated crop supports the mandates of multiple Ministries who share a commitment to build a cleaner future for all Canadians.

“As pressure mounts over arable land and populations continue to rise, we must recognize opportunities within the Blue Economy to produce food and feed, while adapting to climate change,” said Bill Collins, Chair of Cascadia Seaweed. “Seaweed is a source of protein, carbs, fiber and minerals that everybody needs.”

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