Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)

Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

A global expert said seaweed might be the “greatest untapped” food resource available to humanity, as he also highlighted barriers that stand in the way of reaching its potential.

Vincent Doumeizel kicked off B.C.’s inaugural Seaweed Days Festival in the Victoria suburb of Sidney Monday with a pitch firmly aimed at expanding public acceptance of seaweed as a food source.

“If you think of seaweed as being slimy, smelly and unsexy, it is time to get over it,” he said. “It’s a huge source of sustainable food with massive, massive potential.”

Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the event organized by the Sidney-based Cascadia Seaweed Corporation.

According to study, two per cent of the ocean being dedicated to seaweed production would be sufficient to feed 12 billion people.

“Seaweed is a nutritional bomb,” he said. “It’s full of protein, it’s full of Vitamin C and B-12, full of unsaturated fatty acids, which are so critical to our health and lots of other good stuff, which we cannot find anywhere else.”

B.C’s Coast Salish People have had a long history of consuming seaweed, and Doumeizel pointed to Japan and other parts of Asia as places where seaweed is a widely accepted part of local diet. But global development of the industry depends on more people getting used to the idea of eating it. While seaweed may have many other applications, “food is the keystone,” he said.

With humanity needing to feed 300,000 new people every day and land-based food systems making “massive” contributions to climate-change greenhouse gas emissions and soil depletion, humanity needs to develop ocean-based food systems, he said. He pointed out that oceans currently account for three per cent of global food supplies while covering 70 per cent of the planet.

“We need to develop food from the ocean,” he said. Ultimately, diets need to shift. “We all need to consider ourselves brand ambassadors and change our diets, and move toward seaweed or seaweed-based products if we want the world to change,” he said.

RELATED: Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

RELATED: Sidney’s Cascadia Seaweed hopes to float to the top of a growing industry

Apart from the cultural factor, the industry also faces barriers tied to the absence of global growing standards, and limited environmental requirements.

“In people’s mind, it is related to invasive species,” he said. “People are scared about what is new. There are very low levels of social acceptance. Social licensing is very low and permitting from national authorities is very complex as well. Seaweed may well be one of the most sustainable businesses in the world, but it is already easier to get permitting to pump oil out of the ocean than to cultivate seaweed.”

The seaweed industry remains labour-intensive for now and it is not clear yet where future markets will be, he said.

The recent creation of the Safe Seaweed Coalition aiming to create a safe, standard-based seaweed in helping to bring about what Doumeizel described earlier as the Seaweed Revolution along the lines of the Seaweed Manifesto published by the UN Global Compact.

Seaweed farming is a global business carried out in at least 56 countries worldwide in 2018, but more than 99 per cent of the production is found in Asian countries.

The inaugural Seaweed Days Festival festival runs March 17 to 22. 

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read