The FAO reports that some 220 species of seaweed are of commercial value in the global marketplace. They are commonly used as stand-alone foods, or processed into materials and ingredients that are subsequently used in products, which speaks to the economic potential of developing seaweed production in Canada.
To realize some of that potential, The Newfoundland Seaweed Company partnered with CCFI and researchers from the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University to conduct research to help establish a viable and sustainable kelp harvesting operation within the Dildo Run and neighboring areas of Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sources of kelp were determined by establishing a baseline assessment of kelp coverage and determining if local harvesting was a viable option. A biomass sampling program was implemented using divers at several times of the year to collect randomized samples and data about population density, species availability, and functional foods material characterization. An experimental harvest was conducted in surveyed areas, with initial cuts being revisited to examine regrowth.
A special license was obtained through DFO's Emerging Fisheries Program to guide the sampling protocol and field analysis that took place during the project. The Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory at MUN's Grenfell campus also conducted baseline material assessments to determine high value opportunities for processing and extractions. This research should prove foundational to the development of seaweed harvesting activity in the future.