In seaweed, climate capitalists see green

In the inlets between Vancouver Island and the archipelago of the Georgia Strait, floats one of the largest seaweed farms in North America. 

Cascadia Seaweed’s floating grid of blue buoys plays host to seedlings of kelp and other species of seaweed growing on lines just below the water. After six months or so of growth, the plants are large enough to be harvested. A winch pulls the lines with dripping seaweed stalks attached aboard a steel-hulled boat en route to a processing facility. 

Founded in 2019 in Sidney, B.C., Cascadia’s operation has spanned as much as 44 hectares of coastal water, though it varies in size.

Their aim is to get a lot bigger, and quickly. 

Cascadia chairman and co-founder Bill Collins told local media in 2021 the plan by 2025 is to have 500 hectares under cultivation, with agreements on “at least 500 more.” 

The bulk of global seaweed farming to date—an estimated 97 per cent—has happened along Asian coastlines, with major producers like China, Indonesia and the Philippines providing for a rapidly-growing market. In recent years, Canada has also seen expanding activity and investment.

As the search for climate solutions grows ever more urgent, the global seaweed farming industry has attracted big investment capital, glowing press coverage—and the hopes of many environmental activists and groups. NPR, BBC, CBC and the Globe and Mail have all featured seaweed farming extensively, extolling its benefits for everything from climate change to warming and acidifying oceans.

Holly Dressel, The Breach, 28 September 2022. Full article.

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