Seaweed cultivator receives grant to study effects of kelp beds on salmon

A two-year-old Sidney company that produces food from seaweed has been awarded a $1.8-million grant from the B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund that will be used to study the effect of kelp beds on juvenile salmon.

Cascadia Seaweed, which has established seaweed beds around the Island, will use the money to establish 400 hectares of cultivated kelp beds along with research partners Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Ocean Networks Canada, AML Oceanographics and Deep Trekker.

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“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.”

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.

“Helping B.C.’s wild salmon population recover is a monumental task, but the commitment and partnership among First Nations, scientists, governments, and people who care about these iconic fish is unwavering,” Popham said.

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

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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