The Ministry of Agriculture is offering three Mazzaella japonica harvest licences and increased quotas for the 2015-16 beach-cast seaweed harvest season in the Deep Bay and Bowser area. For the first time, two additional licences are also being issued for a new area fronting the Qualicum First Nation Reserve.
Three companies – Stormy Shores Seaproducts Inc., Pacific Seaplants Inc., and Island Seaweeds Inc. – have held licences in good standing for the past few seasons. For this year’s season, they will now be able to harvest a maximum of 500 tonnes each in the Deep Bay and Bowser area, from the previous limits of 300 tonnes.
The Qualicum First Nation and Island Scallops Ltd are being offered Mazzaella japonica licences of 250 tonnes each for the area fronting the Qualicum First Nation Reserve in Qualicum Beach.
The beach-cast seaweed harvest decisions are based on thorough field observations that include a May 2015 Vancouver Island University (VIU) research study that determined the harvest did not have a detectable effect on the amount of Mazzaella japonica deposited on the beaches in the study area. A three year study conducted by the University of Victoria also informed the decisions. The Ministry of Agriculture has allocated $50,000 to VIU to continue their research and monitoring this season, including the new harvest area.
In addition to the VIU study, provincial fisheries inspectors will continue to monitor the harvest. The Ministry of Agriculture evaluates licence conditions over the harvest season, and will consider the results of the harvest, of continued research information, and any feedback from the community in adjudicating licence applications in subsequent years. This helps ensure an environmentally sustainable approach to harvesting, while providing for local jobs.
Mazzaella japonica was inadvertently introduced to B.C. waters in the early 1900’s. It is rich in carrageenan that is used in many products including processed foods (ice cream), cosmetics (toothpaste) and pharmaceuticals.
Detailed information on marine plant harvesting: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/fisheries-and-aquaculture/aquatic-plant-harvesting
Vancouver Island University final report entitled “Monitoring of Drift Seaweed and Harvest, Central Strait of Georgia 2014-15: https://richardss.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/viucsr-beach-wrack-monitoring-2014-15-final-report150522bk.pdf