Sugar kelp found to grow well in nutrient plume from fish farms.
Researchers at North Island College led by NSERC Industrial Research Chair Stephen Cross have determined that kelp, specifically sugar kelp or Saccarina Latissima, grows faster and larger when it can feed off the nutrient plume downstream from fish farms.
“Over four months the kelp grew and we were able to use the data on the growth of the kelp to look at whether or not there was a difference between kelp grown upstream away from the nutrient plume and within the plume and as you move further away you could see growth less than right next to the farm which grew quite substantially” said Stephen Cross in an interview with CHEK New.
Cross was in Nanaimo addressing a conference of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. Several fish farming companies are funding his research.
“My interest is whether or not we can actually culture commercially viable species, seaweed or kelps and also potentially shellfish” said Cross.
Salmon farming companies are looking to make use of unused areas of their underwater tenures and get more bang for the money they spend to feed their fish.
The NIC researchers are now watching the growth of their seeds at 34 different farms on the coast to see what areas grow the best kelp.
“And sugar kelp, the common name of it has the potential of being grown in large volumes and converted into bioethanol so it can actually be converted into an alternate fuel” added Cross.
There are other more common uses as well which puts it in demand around the world.
“This particular kelp is also used in a Chinese recipe kombo, it’s used in soups and stews, that sort of thing. There’s alginates in that are used for stiffening things like toothpaste and ice cream. There’s all kinds of uses” he said.
He put the last round of seeds in the water in December and January and is eager to see how much kelp has grown. He will be pulling them out in May.