Kelp Habitat Banking

Habitat banks are an important tool used by the forestry sector to compensate for environmental impacts. The goal of this project is to develop an innovative type of habitat bank using planted kelp beds that can be used by the forestry sector to reduce the environmental impact of logging on marine habitat. Kelp beds are also highly effective at sequestering carbon, the levels of carbon sequestered in the habitat banks will be measured in order to assess their contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Project Dates: December 2019 – January 3, 2024
Funding Amount: $286,250
Students Hired: 4

MCWA President, Mike Wright and NIC researcher Allie Byrne examine one of the experimental sugar kelp lines.

Project Summary

Kelp naturally provides food and habitat for many different species while improving water quality. Planted kelp beds, therefore, have the potential to create marine habitat and/or rehabilitate degraded marine habitat. This project seeks to fill in knowledge gaps regarding kelp as a habitat banking tool for the forestry sector. The growth and quality of kelp was compared at several marine sites used for log handling/storage. In addition to kelp measurements, water quality was monitored and qualitative observations from underwater photos/video were recorded at each site. The results will help the industry partners, and potentially other companies, make informed decisions about future marine habitat banks by examining what site conditions and kelp cultivation techniques were or were not successful during this project.

Research Team

Allison Byrne
Allison Byrne, Lead Researcher
Allison Byrne (Allie) is a researcher in NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation where her focus is applied aquaculture research. Most of her work involves field-based seaweed and shellfish research projects that engage local industry partners and NIC students. Allie has an MSc in Geography from the University of Victoria.
Logan Zeinert
Logan Zeinert, Senior Research Technician
Logan hails from New Zealand, but recently completed his Masters Degree at Memorial University in Newfoundland. Logan has extensive marine surveying and aquaculture research experience and is an accomplished diver.
Sally Enns
Sally Enns, Student Research Assistant
Sally Enns is a graduate of the NIC Aquaculture Technician program. Read more about her experience with this research.
Maria Griffith
Maria Griffith, Student Research Assistant
Maria Griffith is a student researcher for North Island College and is very passionate about the ocean and better understanding marine life. It is very important to her that the world maintains a healthy relationship with the environment throughout all aspects of life.
Sabrina Jordan
Sabrina Jordan, Student Research Assistant
Sabrina is a Biology student at NIC, from Campbell River. You can often find her out on the local beaches or down by the docks, enjoying our local marine life. Working with the Kelp Habitat Banking project has been an inspiring opportunity to learn about and participate in the efforts to preserve BC’s marine ecosystems, her favourite places.
Aube Degroot
Aube Degroot, Student Research Assistant
Aube is a student from UC Leuven-Limburg in Belgium. She is in her third year of Chemistry with a specialization in Environmental Technology. She is doing this project as part of her degree. She loves sciences and wants to pursue the Biochemistry field.
Melissa Roberts
Melissa Roberts, Student Research Assistant
Melissa is a second-year student at NIC pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology. She is passionate about protecting and restoring ecosystems and learning more about our local marine environment. Melissa anticipates gaining relevant experience working with CARTI that will further her knowledge in applied sciences for future endeavours.
Michael C. Wright, Owner and Senior Biologist, M.C. Wright and Associates Ltd.
Michael is the owner and manager of M.C. Wright and Associates Ltd. with 32 years of Fisheries-related experience in British Columbia. He began his own Nanaimo-based biological consulting company in 1988. Over the past 27 years as a private consultant, Michael’s innovative vision has grown his company to include marine and fresh water services, GIS mapping and custom software programming.
Cosmo Roemer
Cosmo Roemer, Biologist, M.C. Wright and Associates Ltd.
Cosmo a biologist and commercial diver with M.C. Wright and Associates Ltd. He specialized in field-based projects, both in marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Karl Smith
Karl Smith, Guardian Manager, Wei Wai Kum First Nation
Karl leads the Wei Wai Kum Guardian Watchman program which was established in 2019 to formalize the Nation’s role in monitoring and protecting the lands and waters within Wei Wai Kum traditional territory. Karl has decades of experience working on the ocean, in roles such as commercial fishing, ecological monitoring, and salmon habitat restoration. Karl’s team is supporting the kelp habitat project through field assistance and infrastructure surveillance.
Michael Gelz
Michael Gelz, Engineering Technologist, BC Timber Sales
Michael is a Registered Forest Technologist who has worked in a variety of roles within the forestry sector. He specializes in providing management and technical assistance related to road construction and log handling infrastructure. “I am extremely grateful to work with the folks involved in this project… It’s been a lot of fun to see the various techniques developed to get kelp established at our research sites.”
Roland Doering
Roland Doering, Engineering Officer, BC Timber Sales
Roland is a Registered Forest Technologist specializing in the high-level operational requirements for forestry activities including site access, land and marine designations, and stakeholder consultations.

Project Outcomes

  • Kelp was planted at four sites. Kelp yield, length, and width were measured, along with water current, temperature, and salinity at the experimental sites. Underwater video footage from dive surveys was collected before kelp planting and on a follow-up trip near peak kelp production.
  • Optimal kelp culture depth, grow-out infrastructure, and sites were identified.
  • NIC, MCWA, and BC Timber Sales are working together on a larger 3-year kelp project that will build on the results of this collaboration and test a novel kelp planting technique.


News Stories and Coverage

Allison Byrne on CBC

NIC News: NIC researching kelp habitat banks for the forestry sector

My Comox Valley Now: NIC part of kelp-planting efforts on Vancouver Island

Campbell River Mirror: North Island College helping research kelp habitat improvements for forestry sector