Cascadia Seaweed to Study Effects of Kelp Beds on Salmon

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Cascadia chair Bill Collins and company chief executive Mike Williamson with a harvest of sugar kelp. Photo: courtesy Cascade Seaweed

Andrew Duffy writes in that Cascadia Seaweed, of Sidney, British Columbia, has received a $1.8 million grant from the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund to study the effects of kelp beds on young salmon.

A two-year-old seaweed-based human food products company, Cascadia intends to become the largest cultivator of seaweed in North America. The young company has already established seaweed beds around Vancouver Island. The new grant funding will allow them to further establish 400 hectares of cultivated kelp beds. They will be working with research partners Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Ocean Networks Canada, AML Oceanographics and Deep Trekker.

“As B.C.’s most ambitious seaweed cultivator, Cascadia Seaweed has the capacity to ask questions, study and understand the environmental benefits of what we do,” said lead researcher Colin Bates. “Kelp farms are known to have ecosystem benefits, but their role in bolstering fisheries is relatively understudied. With declines in both salmon and kelp forests along B.C.’s coast, kelp farming has the potential to help regenerate both.”

B.C.’s Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Lana Popham said the project will offer new insight into salmon habits and populations and contribute to healthy salmon populations in the region.

The Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund is underwritten by the federal and provincial governments to support protection and restoration activities for priority wild fish stocks. The fund also backs projects that ensure the seafood sector in B.C. is positioned for long-term environmental and economic sustainability.

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