SEAWEED HARVEST A GOOD BUSINESS

Deep Bay harvest may be a sustainable business proposal

Carrageenans are an organic renewable resource, used not only in pharmaceuticals but many natural organic products such as organic yogurt and organic beauty products. All products we want to see more of. This is truly a sustainable business proposal that can exist in harmony with the environment, unlike oil and mineral extraction.

The biological review by Ian Birtwell is not a scientific document and as mentioned in a recent article by reporter Candace Wu, is a literature review and more importantly is, as mentioned, anecdotal. The VIU study will be a scientific document, as Wu reported. I hope we will all agree, that this, is to be our source of information, for this harvest.

As far as I am aware, it is three license holders and they all work together and dry out of one facility, 25 miles away at Parksville. The harvest area is approx five which must represent a very small amount of the seaweed biomass on the huge B.C. coast. The harvest is done by hand, pitch-forking seaweed into baskets, approx. four employees. The baskets are set near the high tide mark and a wide-track machine smaller than a pickup truck slowly makes it way along the beach at the high tide mark retrieving the full baskets. A person can walk faster than this single machine and it leaves almost no trace of having been there. This machine then delivers the baskets to the access point to a trailer pulled by a pickup truck where the seaweed is loaded. Then it is driven to the drying facility mentioned above. All along, the Ministry of Agriculture is recording the volume extracted and observing the extraction process.

This is truly a mom and pop small business model we all admire. I cannot imagine being any less harmful to the environment. Visual observation indicates that the extraction of the seaweed is well under 10 per cent of the total biomass coming onto this  small section of beach throughout the year. The three companies provide about 16 well-paying jobs to our area. This is truly a value-added operation. This is not raw resource extraction and shipped halfway around the world, unprocessed. All in all a wonderful success story by some young green entrepreneurs. Full disclosure: I am the landlord for the drying facility.

Cliff Walker,

Mistaken Island

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