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How will Island innovators help restore marine ecosystems?

How will Island innovators help restore marine ecosystems?

Technology Sector Life Sciences/Bio Tech Ocean Sciences and Marine Technology Clean Tech and Environmental Technology Leadership Entrepreneurship

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The National Research Council Canada (NRC), through the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) funding program, will be testing a solution to help restore kelp forests. For its part, Sidney-based climatetech firm Cascadia Seaweed will deliver a self-contained, modular Green Gravel Production System (GGPS) for testing at NRC’s Marine Research Station in Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia during the summer of 2023. The pilot will be for a specific variety known as sugar kelp, but the technology and protocols can also be modified for other kelp species.

The green gravel method was discovered in 2020. This technique seeds natural substrates such as gravel with kelp spores in a controlled environment. Growth is then monitored until the kelp is mature enough to be planted in a marine setting. The end-goal of the method is to create a new kelp forest. 

“Green gravel is a promising kelp restoration method which has gained significant international attention,” said Jennifer Clark, Cascadia’s chief scientist. “As kelp deforestation continues, immediate action is required to mitigate further declines and look towards methods that can help bolster existing kelp ecosystems. Cascadia has the opportunity to advance this technology and help green gravel meet its full potential.”

The company added that, as the largest vertically integrated ocean kelp cultivator in Canada, Cascadia Seaweed is uniquely positioned to leverage its existing scientific knowledge and engineering capabilities to commercialize this exciting technology. It was also an early adopter of the green gravel method, running a pilot in 2021.

It's clear that the feds are fans of the climatetech firm. On top of this nod from NRC, the company closed 2022 with a pair of government cash injections. Last October, it received $4.3 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Then, in November, the Canadian Food Innovation Council dished $73,771 to Cascadia.

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