Stephen Cross is heading up two new innovative projects at the College from his post as the industrial research chair for sustainable aquaculture. One is an initiative to farm seafood more efficiently and economically. The other is a very large study on commercial kelp production, according to an item in the Campbell River Mirror.
Researchers from the school have done a bit of work with kelp cultivation before. “Last year, NIC started preliminary trials at a test site near Tofino which showed good growing potential for a commercial seaweed industry,” Naomi Tabata, manager of the Centre for Applied Research, Technology & Innovation at NIC, tells the Mirror.
This latest project covers a lot more area and will help Cross and his team determine where it makes the most sense to establish a commercial-scale kelp farm in the region.
Kelp lines are going in at 30 distinct locations off Vancouver Island: “This year, the study is much more extensive – with test lines going in near Tahsis, Baynes Sound, Tofino, Port Hardy and Kyuquot and more,” Tabata tells the press.
Over the course of the project, researchers will monitor water conditions at each site, including temperature, salinity, and clarity.
“If successful, the study could broaden the commercial viability of B.C.-grown kelp for food, vitamin-rich pharmaceuticals and natural cosmetics,” a multibillion dollar market, promises the Mirror.
Beneath the waves
Successful brands like La Mer from the Estée Lauder Companies demonstrate the demand for natural and marine ingredients. That product line’s signature ingredient is sea kelp.
H20 Plus and Maxey Cosmetics also rely on ingredients from the ocean. H20 Plus is in a transition just now and going forward will focus on distributing rather than manufacturing skin care, hair care, and body care made with marine ingredients. The forthcoming “brand relaunch would be ‘retaining’ what has made the brand successful,” chairman and CEO Joy Chen told the press early this year.
And, Maxey recently upped its investment in black sea rod oil in a deal with a Cayman Islands, showing just how central the coral ingredient is to that brand’s formulas.