Seaweed harvests are growing wildly on Vancouver Island

[Canada] The plant is growing in huge amounts on one stretch of coastline and entrepreneurs are digging in to extract the value from it. With pitchforks in hand, seaweed collectors get to work on a stretch of coast coated in the bright shiny plant right now.

“Yeah it is, it’s quite wild for sure,” says Seaweed harvester Robert Thompson.

“Yeah and it can come up to your knees further in the season,” says Lasqueti resident Acacia Rose.

They’re here to harvest a seaweed called Irish Moss found only on this stretch of Vancouver Island coastline that’s believed to have fallen off a Japanese freighter decades ago. Literally stumbled upon by a handful of guys here from the East Coast.

“And discovered this is just like the seaweed that we harvest back home. This has got some value,” says Thompson.

And a small industry has now cropped up around it with a massive dryer back in Parksville this seaweed will be stripped of its moisture and shipped overseas, where a valuable ingredient used as a filler in lotions and potions will be derived from it.

“Because they access Carrageenan out of it. And I guess there’s Carrageenan in a lot of stuff,” says Thompson.

And its a growing industry.

“Last year our quota was 300 tonnes and this year its 500 tonnes,” says Thompson.

Where entrepreneurs like Robert Thompson who’s in his third harvest year is learning as he goes and improvising with whatever they can find to get the job done and fix equipment.

“Yeah, yeah we’re pioneering the industry. And we’re making it work,” he says.

By using manpowered pitchforks instead of machines and working in the so called dead zone, where little marine life is present.

“One day there’s a big pile of seaweed here if there’s another storm overnight, oh maybe there’s not some there. Or it’s moved down to the beach down there,” says Thompson.

A new old fashioned harvest that has onlookers in awe.

One powered by mother nature, then pushed ashore by Vancouver Island’s epic winter storms that are just warming up the season.

 

View original article at: Seaweed harvests are growing wildly on Vancouver Island

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